ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

11 April 2002


several items shortened/some via Agnet
1. Mexican corn sparks international protest
2. France continues to prefer non-GMO soybeans
3. Release date for GM wheat is 2005 - interesting!
4. Growing backlash against NGOs and green groups
5. American Farm Bureau viewpoint: activist causes affect farming



April 10, 2002
AgriNews from

 (OAKLAND, CA)-Farmer, environmental, indigenous, and consumer groups throughout North and South America will dump genetically engineered (GE) corn, and organize picket lines, press conferences, and petitions to government, corporate and supranational organizations the week of April 10-17 to protest the contamination of Mexico''s corn with genetically modified pollen.

Called the Continental Campaign Against Genetically Engineered Corn (Campaña Continental Contra el Maíz Transgénico in Spanish), rural and urban activists throughout the Americas will demand that grain exporters, the biotech industry, and the US and Canadian governments stop dumping untested and unlabeled genetically engineered corn on Mexico and other nations where irreplaceable local corn varieties are being damaged by "genetic pollution."

Corporate control of staple food grains and patented seeds is undermining food security and threatening biodiversity. In Mexico, the hardest hit are indigenous campesinos or small farmers who account for the vast majority of Mexican corn producers. Although the source of contamination of native Mexican corn varieties is still unproven, most evidence points to the 6 million tons of corn imported annually to Mexico from the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 35-40 percent of the corn planted in the United States is genetically engineered.  Key demands of the campaign include:

1) A continent-wide prohibition on Genetically Engineered corn,
2) A stop to dumping Genetically Engineered corn in Mexico and other centers of diversity; and
3) Guarantees of a fair price for all corn producers, North and South.

Protesters will target US Embassies, Mexican consular offices, grain ports, corporate offices (Kraft, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Monsanto) as well as major grain exchanges in Winnipeg, Minneapolis, and Chicago.



April 9, 2002

In a current review of French oilseed production and use, the US ag attache reports that French preference continues to mandate the use of non-GMO soybeans in animal feed.

That decision means that Brazil has captured most of the French import business. The French feed industry is asking their suppliers of soybeans and soybean meal to label products containing more than 1 percent of biotech materials, the attache reported.



April 10, 2002
From the pages of the April 2002 edition of Farm Journal magazine via AgWeb Barbara Fairchild

Neal Fisher, administer of the North Dakota Wheat Commission, was not upset last month when news stories proclaimed that Monsanto was delaying the debut of Roundup Ready wheat.

"We had thought with the timetable [2003-05] for the introduction of genetically modified [GM] wheat, things in the GM arena would be settled because of previous use in corn and soybeans, but that's not the case. Instead, the StarLink episode and the attitude of our trading partners have turned up the heat."

At Monsanto, spokesman Mark Buckingham says introduction of GM wheat is on track.

Market acceptance is a concern says Dawn Forsythe, public affairs director for U.S. Wheat Associates. "The top 10 importers of hard red spring (HRS) wheat [the variety in which the Roundup Ready gene will make its debut] account for 77% of the total HRS wheat exports in 2001. Buyers in Japan, the European Union and Korea have repeatedly and definitively stated they will not accept GM wheat, at any tolerance. Last year, buyers in those three countries bought 44% of total HRS exports," Forsythe says.

The zero tolerance level in Japan, the European Union and Korea is especially troublesome, says Fisher.

Market Response to GM Wheat

Here's a brief summary of recent reports on the marketability of GM wheat in countries that are leading importers of hard red spring wheat.

*Japan: Not only will they cease buying hard red spring wheat, they won't purchase any wheat from the U.S.
*European Union: They won't accept GM wheat.
*Taiwan: Mandatory bioengineered food labeling takes effect Jan. 1, 2003. GM wheat will not be accepted without regulatory approval. There is a 5% tolerance level.
*Philippines: They're considering labeling for GM food.
*Korea: They won't accept GM wheat.
*Thailand: They won't accept GM wheat.
*Dominican Republic: No problem with GM wheat, unless products are being exported to the European Union.
*Indonesia: Reluctant to buy GM wheat. With segregation in place, sales will drop by 50%; without segregation, sales will drop by 80%.
*Venezuela: An "at risk" market since it tends to follow the European Codex Alimentarius when setting chemical residue levels for imported grains.
*El Salvador: No problem unless products are exported to European Union.



April 10, 2002
Australian Financial Review
David Lague, Far Eastern Economics Review

Biologist See Yee-ai, an executive director of the not-for-profit Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre, is part of a growing scientific backlash against influential non-governmental organisations and green groups that oppose genetically modified, or GM, food and crops.

[others listed are CS Prakash and Patrick Moore!!!]

However, there is no sign that the opposition will relent. Environmental heavyweight Greenpeace has been at the forefront of the charge against genetic engineering and it flatly rejects findings that GM crops and foods are safe.

"We are talking about something that remains very new," says Luisa Tam, Greenpeace spokeswoman in Hong Kong. "We don't know what is going to happen 10 or 20 years down the road. Thirty years ago, nobody complained about cigarettes. Now there are class actions all over the place."

Greenpeace and other groups also reject arguments that food shortages and poverty result from production shortfalls. They claim the world has ample food and the capacity to boost output with conventional means.

"Food shortages are about distribution, not production," says Tam.

There is also considerable scepticism that biotechnology will be able to deliver the dramatic yield increases that were seen in the early years of the Green Revolution.

Opponents contend that no GM crop developed so far has recorded major yield increases because most of the potential for improvement has already been exhausted by conventional plant breeding. Many of the critics of GM crops also argue that the future of sustainable agriculture entails a return to organic farming, where traditionally diverse food supplies, particularly vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables, are restored in place of reliance on a few major crops.

Prakash is contemptuous of these suggestions. "It's like the Vatican trying to preach celibacy as a birth-control method," he says.



April 1, 2002
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

Low commodity prices, rising input costs and productivity-sapping government paperwork challenge us to run our operations as efficiently and professionally as possible. We do. We produce abundant, affordable and healthy food and fiber. The vast majority of consumers in this country respect our efforts, when they ever think about it. Most of the time, they do not have to because the shelves are full, the price is  rightÐfor them. A vocal few, though, are having more of an impact on agriculture than at any other time I can think of. Increasingly, how we farm, what we raise and where we produce are being criticized by a small number of people who hold a specific philosophy or follow a single-purpose agenda. Some of the varied goals include eliminating animal agriculture, preventing the use of ag chemicals, halting the production of commodities enhanced through biotechnology, introducing animal species to an area or stopping land management.

Swimming against the mainstream

Unable to sway public opinion or to influence enough legislators to force mandates on the majority, such groups are pressuring food retailers to adopt their narrow goals and issue arbitrary restrictions and regulations that affect our farms. The zealots are relentless, writing letters to corporate headquarters or handing out leaflets to consumers at local outlets. They may buy a share of a corporation's stock so they can introduce proposals at the annual stockholders' meeting to further their limited interests without regard to the company's responsibility, first of all, to be profitable. They file lawsuits or engage in photogenic publicity stunts. A few corporations choose to grease the squeaky wheel to avoid product defamation by imposing management practices on us, their suppliers.

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