ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

18 October 2002


from Andy Rees, the WEEKLY WATCH editor
Dear all

Welcome to the second WEEKLY WATCH from NGIN bringing you all the latest news in brief on the GM issue.

Please circulate widely to all your friends and contacts finding it hard to keep up with all the breaking news.

Andy <>


A new U.S. Wheat Associates report found that all representatives for Chinese, Korean and Japanese wheat buyers surveyed would not buy or use [GM] Roundup Ready wheat and that 82% of buyers from Taiwan and 78% of buyers from South Asia said they would reject the wheat that Monsanto has developed. 100 per cent of the Japanese buyers indicated that "regardless of government approval, contracts will stipulate no adventitious presence of GM wheat." Japan is the largest buyer of US wheat.

Japan, one of the world's biggest grain importers, is set to tighten its regulations on GMOs.

The Sri Lankan government is to enforce mandatory labeling of all GM products imported in the future.

Farmers and retailers in Switzerland have agreed *never* to produce or sell GM food.

EU Member States refused to reconsider lifting their GM moratorium

France opposes any removal of the EU ban on new GM crop strains.

Brazil's Presidential frontrunner wants to keep Brazil GM-free

South Africa is considering whether to amend pro-GM laws.

The elite French three-star chefs have launched a crusade for a Europe-wide ban on GM crops and livestock.

Italy is opposed to GM vines

Worries that a biotech corn suspected of containing toxic mold could contaminate the food supply

Monsanto's Bt cotton has been devastated in India by the very pest it is supposed to protect against

Monsanto is warning its profits will be lower than forecast, triggering a further signficant fall in its share price.

Monsanto has problems selling its existing GM seeds in the US and Argentina. Weed resistance another worry.

A Monsanto patent application admits transgenic pest control (as in Bt corn and cotton) produces resistant strains and that "numerous problems remain...under actual field conditions".

EU seed directive = GE on a commercial scale by stealth
A new Greenpeace report shows how the EU's current seed contamination proposals could:
*Result in unprecedented GE contamination on around 10% of EU arable land within a year
*Allow the release of about 7,000 million unmonitored and unregulated GE rape and maize plants per year.

In a bag of beet, cotton or maize seed, 1 in 200 seeds could be GM without informing the farmer; in soy, 1 in 150 (ie 0.7%).

In effect, this directive would give the green light for GE crops to be grown on a commercial scale in Europe by stealth.No wonder Gregory Conko, co-founder of AgBioWorld, recently boasted that if thresholds in seed can be established in law, it will shut up the anti-GM folks "for good".

Environmental groups are calling for no legal threshold (Zero Tolerance) for GE  contamination of seeds above the limit of detection (currently 0.1%).

Austria has had a "zero-tolerance" policy for the last 12 months.Seed companies are only allowed to market seeds if no contamination is detected, regardless of them being conventional or organic. NO GMOs are permissable.

None of the problems predicted by the biotech lobby have occurred; it is practical and effective, confirming that zero tolerance does work in Europe. &

GET CYBERACTIVE on this issue!

"there will be no champagne in the corporate boardrooms to celebrate EU directive 2000/18, which became law yesterday after 18 months' delay. The EU has not allowed any new GM food or crops to be licensed since 1998... the commission has thought, the way would be clear for the crops to be authorised. Fat chance... Unfortunately for the companies and the commission, the formidable coalition of national and international environment, consumer, development and faith groups which vehemently opposed the introduction of the crops four years ago has not disappeared and is confident of being able to crank up concerted opposition whenever it has to. By then, directive 2000/18 may be only dimly remembered." - John Vidal, The Guardian, Friday October 18, 2002,2763,814373,00.html

"I'm against the theory of the multinational corporations who say if you are against hunger you must be for GMO. That's wrong, there is plenty of natural, normal good food in the world to nourish the double of humanity. There is absolutely no justification to produce genetically modified food except the profit motive and the domination of the multinational corporations." - UN human rights envoy, Jean Ziegler

"The US says it cannot provide guaranteed GM-free maize [to governments requesting it in southern Africa] because there is no requirement in place to separate GM and non-GM grains in the US. Strange that a 2001 American Corn Growers Association survey showed that more than 50% of US elevators can and do segregate GM and non-GM grains.  The US position is one of choice, not necessity." - "BETTER DEAD THAN GM FED?" by GRAIN (forthcoming  in ŒSeedling‚, October 2002)

"I can almost picture the darkies laying down their lives for the vacuous ideals...their death throes, how picturesque, among the baobab trees and the lions!" - GM lobbyist, Andrew Apel commenting on Zambia's rejection of GM food aid

"Malawi will have no choice but to accept GE foods now. When people are desperate, they will accept anything - a dictator, food, sterilization - you name it." - Malawian dockworker, Siswe Nbele

„Biotechnology will, in reality, push more people in the hunger trap.‰ Devinder Sharma, Indian food and trade policy analyst, in The Ecologist

South African farmer Boetha Van Zyl has thus far rejected planting GE foods on his farm in the Orange Free State. "Who knows what the effects of GE foods will be 50 years?" he asked. "The jury is still out. It may be a modern quasi-religion, but science does not have all the answers, especially when the greedy corporations don't even want critics to ask the most important questions."

"If they're (GMOs) the same as everything else, then how come they have a patent on them?" - Donna Harris on Measure 27 in Oregon

"They (consumers) are aware and very bothered by growing concentration in the food industry, and a strong majority hold a clear preference for a family farm based system of agriculture." - Communicating for Agriculture, national survey of consumers.

Professor Philip Regal, a renowned expert in plant genetics at the University of Minnesota, has written: "there are scientifically justified concerns about the safety of genetically engineered foods, and some of them could be quite dangerous." - See Declaration at

For more statements by leading scientists on the dangers of GM:

"There are things more valuable than health." - The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a U.S. corporate front for GM, tobacco and other firms. The CEI helped to found C.S. Prakash's AgBioWorld campaign.

Bush continuing to bully Zambia over GM food aid
With the Zambian government expected to announce whether it will take GM grain as food aid in the next few days, ActionAid has issued a statement on the food aid situation which, while reminding the government of Zambia of its responsibility to maintain the flow of food aid to hungry people, notes the critical importance of the GM food aid issue for Third World countries.

ActionAid also reminds the U.S. that it is a signatory of the 1999 Food Aid Convention, which recognises that food aid should be bought from the most cost effective source, be culturally acceptable and if possible purchased locally so that regional markets do not suffer. It questions why the US government will only donate GM contaminated grain even though it is still possible to obtain enough non-GM grain from other sources.

The Bush administration has refused the Zambian government loans untied to the purchase of GM food. The US has sought to intensify the pressure on Zambia and other southern African countries to accept GM. At the moment they're reportedly lobbying the Vatican to join the international arm-twisting.

The US administration's campaign of pressure is being supported by corporate lobbyists posing as a "group of scholars"!

In a forthcoming article in 'Seedling', October 2002, "BETTER DEAD THAN GM FED?" by GRAIN, the US's attitude to the hungry in southern Africa is considered in detail. The authors note:  *50% of US elevators can and do segregate GM and non-GM grains. *The US introduced Public Law 480 to ensure that food aid never interfered with "domestic production or marketing."
*The US boasts that "The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States"
*USAID also states one of its roles is to "integrate GM into local food systems."
*The US refuses to mill the GM maize even though African countries facing famine have requested this.
GM dangers - warning from UK government‚s advisors
The UK government has been advised of the potential dangers of GM seed contamination by its own wildlife advisors: English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales. they warn of the emergence of GM superweeds, the use of more herbicides, gene stacking, and the development of weediness of native plant species.
Brtitain quietly funds £13.4 m GM programme in the Third World
UK Government Minister, Clare Short's Department for International Development (DFID) has quietly funded a £13.4m unpublicised programme to create a new generation of GM animals, crops and drugs, in more than 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, with at least 80 GM projects.
A new harvest - Farm-aceutical corn
This year, the USDA has issued 32 field permits for the growing of drugs and drug compounds in barley, rice, tobacco and corn.

Blatant lies in FDA's threatening letter to Oregon governor
A letter from the FDA has been sent to the Oregon governor, strongly objecting to Measure 27 which would require GM foods to be labeled in Oregon. Lawyer Steven Druker, who forced the FDA to reveal files containing the opinions of its own scientific experts, has written to Oregon's governor to warn him that the FDA letter contains major misrepresentations and falsehoods about GM food safety. Very revealing reading!
GM is not the answer to the world‚s starving millions
The biotech‚s mantra is that GM foods will eradicate hunger. However, what the world's 840 million hungry need is food, which is abundantly available, rather than a risk laden technology. A third of the world's hungry and marginalised (320m) live in India, where there is more than 60 million tonnes of surplus foodgrains. In Bangladesh and Pakistan too, food silos are bursting. And yet, these three countries are home to nearly half the world's hungry and marginalised. None of these countries has the political courage to use surpluses to address the hunger, and the international community, meanwhile, just turns a blind eye.

1.4 billion people depend on farm-saved seed for their livelihoods, and for centuries these seeds have been freely saved, used, exchanged, and sold. The WTO's TRIPs agreement endangers these farmers' rights. Patents have been taken out on rice, wheat, maize, soya, sorghum. 6 big companies own 70% of these patents.

Four years ago the representatives of every African country, except South Africa, signed a statement at a Rome conference on GM crops and foods saying that they "strongly objected" to having their poverty used "to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor economically beneficial to us".

The US, Canada, Argentina and China account for about 99% of the world's GM production; Australia and South Africa the other 1%.The EU, Latin America, most of Asia and Africa have blocked GM products from their markets.

No new GM crops or foods have been approved for use in the EU since October 1998, when governments imposed a voluntary moratorium in the face of rising public anger at the way the technology was introduced, largely without consumers knowing about it.

Organic food is now an $11 billion a year industry, the fastest growing segment of the American food system.At current growth rates, most of the $360 billion US retail food sales will be organic by the year 2020.

90% of the world GM seed technology is owned or licensed by one company, Monsanto.

The FDA's false claim about scientific consensus on GM food safety remains the sole purported legal basis for the marketing of GM foods.

The FDA also claims its evaluation process shows GM foods are as safe as other foods, which is bizarre since the FDA requires no testing of GM foods, acknowledges it does not conduct comprehensive reviews of them, and does not make formal empirical findings that particular GM foods are safe.

Phil Angell, Monsanto's then director of corporate communications, told the New York Times (October 25, 1998), "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job." But the FDA admits it has been operating under a White House directive "to foster" the biotechnology industry!

The FDA not only opposes any labels on GM food but has now acceded to food industry pressure to allow irradiated food to be labeled „Cold Pasteurization‰!

17 October 2002
URGENT: Please respond to UK government stitchup!
16 October 2002
ActionAid speaks out on GM food aid
Scholars urge Vatican to intervene in food crisis
Stotty vs Warwick - haven and hell
France not ready to end ban
South Africa has begun to question GM health and safety
Swiss farmers and retailers vow to stay GM free
15 October 2002
No breakthrough for EU on GM foods
UK GM winteroil seed rape trials
'Sowing disaster?' - The Nation
Farm-aceuticalCorn - CBS News
U.N. food envoy questions GM crop safety
U.S.Shifts Tactics in GMO Clash
Burning the unread books in our biological library
14 October 2002
'GM seed spread' warning from UK Government's advisers
Pro-GE lobbyist gets a pie in the face
Open letter to biotech corporations
Organic Cotton Offers Major Opportunities Without GM or Pesticides
Dark side of the genome
Dolly the Sheep creator turns to humans
13 October 2002
US report "could send further shivers down the spines of US farmers of GM crops" - Reuters
Master chefs feed GM foods rebellion
Blair's ministers press for end to GM ban
No genetically contaminated seeds: zero-tolerance working well in Austria
SOS - massive GE contamination threatened by licence to pollute
12 October 2002
Monsanto forecasts falling profits
Misrepresentations in FDA letter to Oregon
11 October 2002
The Agribusiness Examiner #197
Clare Short's myopic vision
ActionAid SeedRights - join the global campaign
'Frankenfoods' create furor on Dark Continent + other stories
NGIN's Weekly Watch number 1
10 October 2002
FDA warns Oregon against labels
Veneman askedto block sale of GM corn
Zambians deny famine deaths while US lobbies the Vatican


URGENT: send your views on GM to the Prime Minister's UK Strategy Unit and help shape the forthcoming debate!


The mechanism for the public debate on the future of GM Crops in the UK starts this autumn and encompasses 3 strands:

1. Scientific study
2. Economic study
3. Public debate

The economic strand is the first one to call for responses (by 25th October!) and the rationale revealing the scope of the study (Scoping Note) can be found at:
or at

It contains some outrageously biased assumptions. Clearly, Downing St. is trying to use the economic argument to show that GM is vital for the UK, which flies in the face of all experience, & it's important that we let Blair know we're on to him!!


Please send your views on the study to the Strategy Unit BY FRIDAY 25TH OCTOBER at:

Or write to: GM Crops Team Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Cabinet Office
4th Floor, Admiralty Arch The Mall LONDON SW1A 2WH

ngin bulletin archive