ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
1 August 2002


The first item below shows the impact the corn-gate scandal has had on Helen Clark's Labour government. They are now anxious to signal how robust they are on GE contamination, "introducing a tough new testing regime aimed at keeping genetically modified crops out of the country".

The reference to 'Norrie' made by Robert Mann, in the second item below, is to Norrie Simmons of the New Zealand PR company, Communications Trumps, who on behalf of Novartis played such a leading role in helping the NZ government decide how to handle the sweet corn contamination. this was revealed in Nicky Hager's book on the corn-gate scandal and by recently released government documents that showed that at one point Communications Trumps even redrafted a government press release! They also tried to get the government to use the word 'maize' rather than 'sweetcorn', as most kiwis are unfamiliar with the meaning of the former.

Communications Trumps were also allegedly involved in telling King Salmon not to publicise the fact that their engineered salmon were at times deformed. They also set up NZ's orginal GM spin machine 'GenePool' which claimed to be independent while being funded by Monsanto and various other pro-GM organisations. Nicky Hager has also alleged that Communications Trumps had some role in setting up the pro-GM 'Life Sciences Network'.

Here Robert Mann draws attention to other of Monsanto's covert activities. For more on Monsanto's recent PR dirty tricks campaigning:

1. NZ adopts strict tests to keep out GM seeds
2. middle-aged dirt on your large M (Norrie's buddies)


1. New Zealand adopts strict tests to keep out genetically modified seeds

Associated Press Worldstream
August 1, 2002


New Zealand said Thursday it is introducing a tough new testing regime aimed at keeping genetically modified crops out of the country.

The South Pacific nation will test all shipments of imported sweet corn, maize, canola and soybean seeds to ensure they contain no trace of genetically engineered DNA.

The new regime, which officials said was among the tightest in the world, began Thursday on maize-seed imports and will be extended to canola seed from Oct. 1 and to soybean seeds from Jan. 1 next year. Checking of all sweet corn seed imports was introduced last August amid fears contaminated seed had reached New Zealand growers. No evidence of contamination was confirmed.

Sweet corn seeds produce corn for human consumption while maize is generally fed to livestock.

"If the testing shows any contamination at all, then the seeds will be rejected," Director of Plants Biosecurity, Richard Ivess, said in a statement.

A row over limits on genetic engineering dominated last month's general election campaign, with the governing Labor party accused of covering up the presence of modified corn on New Zealand farms.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, who won Saturday's poll, rejected as "vile" claims of a cover-up made by Green Party campaigners.

Clark said the nation's Green Party had "ruled itself out" of a role in government by its threat to pull down any government which ends a nationwide moratorium on the release of GE plants and animals for commercial use.

The moratorium is due to end in October 2003.

In the past year only one 2.7 kilogram (5.9 pound) shipment of sweet-corn seed, from the United States, was found to contain genetically engineered DNA and was incinerated.

New Zealand's crop farmers import 186 tones (204 short tons) of maize and sweet-corn seeds each year, of which 161 tones (177 short tons) comes from the U.S.


2. On 30 Jul 2002 at 18:47, Robt Mann wrote:

 This was the gang for whom Norrie® set up & operated her furtive 'GenePool®' deceitfully misusing the RSNZ money & reputation.

Soured milk of Monsanto's 'kindness'
Observer, London Sunday, February 21, 1999

Thirty seven per cent of Americans over the age of 15 find sexual intercourse painful, difficult to perform or just plain unenjoyable.  Who says so? Doctors Edward Laumann and Raymond Rosen, that's who.  And because they said it in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, it popped up last week in every US newspaper. Oh, did I forget to mention that the study's authors recently worked for Pfizer, maker of Viagra? In the article JAMA did not mention it either.  The not-tonight-honey study reflects a dangerous new problem: the threat to the impartiality of medical scientists evaluating the products of drugs companies for which they have worked.

Another example: calcium channel-blocking drugs reduce the risk of heart disease.  Unfortunately, they can also give you a heart attack. Yet 70 learned articles in medical journals vouch for the drugs' safety and efficacy.

According to an investigation by the New England Journal of Medicine, 96 per cent of the scientists who wrote articles supporting  the drugs received financial benefits from the pharmaceuticals companies that  make them. Only two out of 70 articles disclosed their authors' financial interest.

Such financial interests raise concerns as to the objectivity of scientists responsible for granting government approval for drugs. One US manufacturer, Monsanto, is a case in point.

The Observer has received copies of letters, memoranda and meeting notes indicating that Monsanto was sent restricted documents from an international regulatory committee investigating the company's controversial bovine growth hormone.  BST boosts a cow's milk output, but some European experts say BST has such yummy side-effects as increasing the amount of pus in milk, promoting infection in cow udders and potentially increasing risks of breast and prostate cancer in humans who drink the milk.

According to an internal Canadian health ministry memo of November 1997, Monsanto received advance copies of three volumes of  position papers intended for review in closed meetings of the UN World Health Organisation's joint experts committee on food additives. This is one valuable set of documents. The European Union's ban on the genetically altered hormone expires this year. The experts committee advises the international commission, which will soon vote on whether to add BST to the Codex Alimentarius, the list of approved food additives.  Codex listing would make it difficult for many nations to block imports of BST-boosted foods.   Monsanto's cache included submissions by EC Directors-General for food and agriculture as well as analyses by British pharmacologist John Verrall.  I spoke with Verrall just after he learned that his commentary had been passed to Monsanto. He was stunned, not just by the release of reports he believed confidential - participants sign non-disclosure statements - but by the source of the leak. The memo identifies Monsanto's conduit from the UN committee as Dr Nick Weber of the US Food and Drug Administration.    Weber, it turns out, works at the FDA under the supervision of Dr Margaret Miller. Miller, before joining government, headed a Monsanto laboratory studying and promoting BST.

After seeing the committee's documents, Monsanto faxed a warning to its allies in government that one participant on the expert committee, Dr Michael Hansen, was 'not completely on board'.

Indeed he is not.  Hansen is furious.  A BST expert with the Consumers' Policy Institute in Washington, Hansen regards the memos as putting in doubt the impartiality of the scientists in some US and Canadian authorities.

Other memos discuss plans by some US and Canadian officials to 'share their communication strategy' with industry, speak to members of the experts committee and obtain Monsanto's comments ahead of the  vote of the experts in February 1998 - in which Monsanto prevailed.

Because proceedings were confidential, we cannot know how a majority overcame objections of known dissenters. But we can presume Monsanto was not harmed by the late addition of BST defender Dr Len Ritter to the deliberations.  An intra-office memo obtained from Canada's Bureau of Veterinary Drugs states that Ritter's name was suggested to the bureau's director in an August 1997 telephone call from Dr David Kowalczyk, Monsanto's regulatory affairs honcho.

Of course, obtaining government approvals to sell BST-laden milk is not much use to Monsanto if no one will buy the stuff.  Luckily for Monsanto, the US FDA not only refuses to require labelling of hormone-laced products, but in 1994 published a rule that effectively barred dairies from printing 'BST-free' on milk products.
This strange milk-carton exception to America's Bill of Rights was signed by Michael Taylor, deputy to the FDA commissioner.  Prior to joining the US agency, Taylor practised law with the firm of King & Spalding, where he represented Monsanto. Taylor, no longer in government, did not return our calls to his office at his current employer, Monsanto Washington.
According to Canadian health ministry researcher Dr Margaret Haydon, Monsanto offered her bureau between US$1 million and $2m in a 1994 meeting.  Monsanto counters that the funds were proffered solely to support the cash-strapped agency's research.
Haydon and five other government scientists have filed an extraordinary plea with Canada's industrial tribunal seeking protection for their jobs. They fear retaliation for exposing damaging facts about BST.  America's rush to approve the hormone in 1993 rested on a study published in the journal Science by FDA researchers that concluded there were no 'significant  changes' in BST-fed rats.
The rats appear to tell a different tale. Their autopsies revealed thyroid cysts, prostate problems and signs of BST invading their blood. The US researchers failed to publish these facts and the FDA suppressed the full study.
The Canadian scientists, finally winning access to the full study, blew the whistle. The facts became public only weeks ago via their labour board action, a decade after the original.

Bon appetit.


Gregory Palast's other investigative reports can be found at <http://www.GregoryPalast.Com>www.GregoryPalast.Com where you can  also subscribe to Palast's column.   Gregory Palast's column "Inside Corporate America" appears fortnightly in the  Observer's Business section. Nominated Business Writer of the Year (UK Press Association - 2000), Investigative Story of the Year (Industrial. Society - 1999), Financial Times David Thomas Prize (1998).,4273,3846119,00.html

Robt Mann
consultant ecologist
P O Box 28878  Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand   (9) 524 2949

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