ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

2 April 2003


"When the first pesticides were introduced in the thirties, we were all told by scientists that they were safe. Their effects began to surface 30 years later, and many of them are now banned."

1.Protests build against genetically modified food
3.WTO summary


Protests build against genetically modified food

Mar 25, 2003, 2:02 pm

LONDON (IPS)˜Protests were held around the world March 15 against genetically modified foods on World Consumer Rights Day.

Protest meetings were held by about 250 consumer organizations under the wing of the London-based Consumers International. Meetings reportedly were held in many cities across Europe, Africa and Asia.

In Jamaica, Consumers International launched a study into the prevalence of GM foods in the local markets, and will lobby for a regulatory framework to protect consumers. In Vietnam, events were held in 18 different provinces aimed at raising awareness around the issue of genetically modified (GM) foods.

Much of the protest was aimed at the U.S. company Monsanto. That is the company developing more than 90 per cent of GM foods.

Most GM food is being grown in the United States and Argentina, and to a smaller extent in Canada and China. These four countries produce about 99 per cent of the world‚s GM food.

"But public concern outside of these countries, in Europe, India and other places seems greater than in the U.S. or in Argentina," said Julian Edwards, director-general of Consumers International.

That is at least partly because GM products are increasingly being grown in many other countries. There are also fears around the world over new products. "Monsanto has already developed a form of genetically modified wheat, and is trying to gauge the right moment to release it in the market," Mr. Edwards said.

About a third of the maize grown in the U.S. is reported to be genetically modified. Much of the GM crop was intended as animal feed, but there are increasing signs these foods are being developed for human consumption. The use of GM foods in the U.S. is already widespread, though the proportion of an average diet that it takes up is not very high.

In Argentina, some of the GM soy crop meant for animal feed has been diverted for human consumption, Mr. Edwards said.

There is little evidence so far of damage to health caused by GM foods. But that may not by itself be reason to feel reassured. "When the first pesticides were introduced in the thirties, we were all told by scientists that they were safe," Mr. Edwards said. "Their effects began to surface 30 years later, and many of them are now banned."

There are indications already of allergies from GM foods if proper pre-marketing tests are not carried out, Mr. Edwards said. "GM crops are something which nature would not do. There will have to be questions over something which challenges natural development."

Consumers International has produced a report titled "Corporate control of the food chain˜the GM link" to raise concerns over GM food. Development of these foods has an immediate bearing on both the environment and on economy, said John Madeley, author of the report.

"This is about controlling the food chain from the seed to production and even distribution. And its promoters are trying to gain economic and political control to influence governments," he said.

If allowed to develop GM crops unchecked, they can begin to take over natural crops, Mr. Madeley said.

"Wind can spread pollen from these crops, and there is no limit how far it can spread. And patents will mean that producers will want to control all crops it spreads to," he added. Millions of small farmers will be threatened, the Consumers International report warns.

In one such case a GM producer has successfully sued a farmer in such a case.



1 Apr 2003

Cornwall County Council today voted to go GM-free, joining a  growing protest against GM crops at local authority level across  the country. The decision has been warmly welcomed by Friends of  the Earth which launched a GM-free Britain Campaign [1] in October  last year.

Pressure to go GM-free is particularly strong in the south west of  England with South Gloucestershire and South Hams District Council  voting to go GM-free in February this year. Devon County Council  has stated its opposition to GM trials, and called on the South  West Regional Assembly to take a position on GM. North Radstock  Town Council also voted to go GM-free in December 2002.

In a full meeting, Cornwall County Council voted to keep the  County of Cornwall free of GM crops and GM food and feed, and to  call on the Secretary of State to provide legal protection for  this County as a GM free area, under European law. Under this  law, councils can request legal protection of their areas from  particular GM crops [3]
Friends of the Earth GM Coordinator in the South West Keith Hatch  said:

"This is fantastic news for people in Cornwall and in the whole of  the South West. The public have made it clear they do not want GM  crops in Cornwall, or anywhere else in the region. The Regional  Assembly must now act to protect the area as a whole.
Friends of the Earth GM Campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:

" Friends of the Earth is delighted that Cornwall County Council  has voted to go GM-free. Around Britain there is growing  opposition to GM crops and food. Cornwall's decision sends a  strong message to the Government that local people don't want  their food, farms and environment threatened by GM crops. It is  time now for the Government to listen and not allow GM crops to be  grown for sale in the UK".

Calls for GM-free areas are also being considered in other parts
 of Britain. The Lake District National Park Authority announced  that it will hold a major conference with other National Parks  Authorities to consider becoming GM-free. And the National  Assembly for Wales is maintaining its GM-free stance.
The Government is expected to decide later this year whether or  not to allow GM crops to be commercially grown across the UK.  Commercialisation risks widespread GM contamination of food, crops  and the environment. An NOP survey published in October showed  that 57 per cent do not want GM crops to be commercially grown  across the UK.



 [2] Cornwall County Council voted in favour of the following resolution:

 (a) This Council recognises that:-

 (c) the Community Life Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee  investigate how best the County Council should contribute to the  Government's consultation dialogue involving a GM Public Debate Steering Board (The Board to report by September 2003).
[3] Article 19 of the Deliberate Release Directive 2001/19/EC. For more explanation see briefing on GM-Free local areas:[2]

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April 2003
ISB News Report
Phillip Jones

Referring to the European Union's anti-GM food crusade, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick accused the organization of immoral behavior and claimed that some Member States had linked their aid to Africa with a rejection of GM foods. The Bush administration was also concerned about a domino effect with Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East following Zambia's lead in rejecting GM exports from the United States. Impatient with the EU's glacial progress in ending its GM food moratorium and fearful that EU policy is creating a chilling effect around the world, U.S. officials came up with a plan. The United States would file an international trade case against the European Union in the World Trade Organization.

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