ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  5 November 2000


More good news for AVENTIS;

1      Scientists question safety of GM maize risk test
2.     Congratulate the boys and girls at AVENTIS!
1.    Scientists question safety of GM maize risk test

"It's astonishing that this study has not been assessed and found wanting by the government, and that it's been left to Friends of the Earth to have it properly reviewed." said Dr Kestin.

The Guardian - 4 November 2000 by John Vidal

The safety of the maize which the government hopes will be Britain's first commercially grown
GM crop was last night in question after independent scientists checked corporate research
and found that the animal food had a "suspicious" trend of killing chickens.

Steve Kestin and Toby Knowles, who have worked on chicken studies for the Ministry of
Agriculture, were commissioned by Friends of the Earth to review a study by Aventis, the giant GM
company, supporting its case to grow the maize in Britain.

The scientists, from the University of Bristol's department of clinical veterinary science, told a
government hearing yesterday that they had found "a failure to investigate suspicious trends" in the
death of chickens.

Ten male broiler birds out of 140 (7.14%) who were fed the GM maize in a small trial died
compared to five (3.57%) who died after eating conventional maize.

This, they said, suggested "either a fault in the study or a real direct effect of diet and should act
as a spur for further investigation".

The Aventis study stated that the level of deaths was "normal for this fast growing strain of bird"
and gave a normal mortality rate in broiler chickens of this age at "between 5 and 8%".

But a source in the British poultry industry said yesterday this range of deaths was abnormal
-"4% is the average. Anything over 5% and you have got a problem".

The Bristol scientists also questioned the methods and conclusions of the Aventis study.  They said that the nutrition tests done by the company on the maize were "inadequate" and "not of a standard that would be acceptable for publication in a scientific journal".

They further found the studies had not been repeated sufficiently to be of scientific validity.  Only four repeats were used, as opposed to the minimum of 14 which they recommended.

Using such a small number of tests, they said, would be "one of the best methods _to show no
 effect". They also noted other flaws in the design of the Aventis study.

"It's astonishing that this study has not been assessed and found wanting by the government,
and that it's been left to Friends of the Earth to have it properly reviewed." said Dr Kestin.

During the hearing experts have already questioned Aventis's scientific evidence for the
marketing of the GM forage maize.

In particular, they have expressed concern over the failure to test the GM maize on cows for which
the maize is intended. Aventis has refused to produce evidence at the hearing.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Agriculture said that the official tests on the Chardon LL crop,
carried out by the French authorities, had only been conducted for one year rather than the two
required under EU law.

Yesterday's revelations were a further blow to the government's GM policy.  In April, it announced its intention to allow Chardon LL - which has been genetically modified to be resistant to Aventis' own herbicide - to be put on to the national seed list, the final legal barrier before the seed can be sold to farmers.

But a loophole in the law found by Friends of the Earth allowed the public the right to an appeal
against the decision.

A spokesman for Aventis last night said: "We are confident that Chardon LL is a variety eligible for
entry on to the national list, having already complied with all of the prescribed relevant regulatory procedures."

*  *  *


As well as playing fast and loose with the truth, AVENTIS threatens our global environment while fouling up the world's food supply.  AVENTIS is also covering a larger area of the UK with GM crops than any other company. Let them know what you think about it!

Here's a suggestion from the chairman of the ngin board - the inimitable Jean de Bris:

'Allo my fellow ngineeers. As we work on the formal award winning cermonies for the pants on fire award winners, you may care to send your own congratulations to the scorched undie brigade!

You might, for instance, like to send Judith Jordan a Congratulations card. 'Congratulations - You're Pregnant!' That sort of thing.  Or perhaps a small bouquet might be in order? A pseudo-CSA report tracking down the errant father to, say, cubicle 4 at Liverpool Street Station loos would, of course, be quite improper.

You can contact Judith at:
Judith Jordan
Product Development Mgr
Seed & Crop Improvement
Aventis Crop Science UK Ltd
Fyfield Road
Essex CM5 OHW
Tel:  01277 301301 (switchboard)
Fax:  01277 362610

Other people you may wish to contact at the same address:

If anyone has any to spare, given all that dreadful scorching they might really appreciate the odd substitute pair of old undies.  Laundered, of course!

Keep it humereuse!!
Jean de Bris

"In the future, only a few companies will be able to shape the developments in this industry - Aventis CropScience… will be one of them"
- Jurgen Dormann, Aventis CEO.

"We're just a company, I guess.... I guess, what we're also saying is we're only a small team."
- Dr Paul Rylott, Seed Manager, AVENTIS speaking on 'Matter of Fact', broadcast
12 October 2000, BBC2 Eastern Region

AVENTIS is, in fact, the world's largest biotech corporation.

Des D’Souza of AVENTIS assured Rev Paul Cawthorne in a letter that there were no undisclosed trials in Shropshire involving the company’s maize seed.  Strictly speaking, the seed in the AVENTIS crop trial counted as the property of Advanta!

Dr Paul 'STARBURST' Rylott:

"The two will not get mixed up. Everybody will have the right to choose."

"I was across in America... and you actually saw some farmers with some real smiles on their faces again...There was certainly one guy - we sort of said, you know, have you got any problems with biotechnology and he said yes, the only problem is I can't get enough seed."

Dr Rylott, , Seed Manager, AVENTIS, speaking on 'Matter of Fact', broadcast 12 October 2000, BBC2 Eastern Region
Extreme slipperiness: putting it about on a toilet seat!
Judith Jordan, Product Manager for AVENTIS asked, as a witness for the  prosecution in the failed Greenpeace court case, whether a fifty meter  buffer zone between GM and conventional crops was really sufficient to  prevent cross-contamination, replied that pollution in those  circumstances was as likely as getting pregnant from a toilet seat.

According to the National Pollen Research Unit viable maize pollen can travel at least 800 meters, ie 16 times further than the distance beyond which Jordan claimed under oath that the probability of
cross-contamination was effectively zero!


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