ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

24 January 2002


1. UK: national day of action - activists oppose the Bayer Hazard
2. Korea:  Activists Oppose Promotion of GMO From US


1. UK: national day of action - activists oppose the Bayer Hazard

Aventis floats itself today and Bayer are set to take over Aventis Crop Science from the end of the March. To mark the event there has been a national day of action today in the UK, including a blockade at Bayer's UK HQ in Newbury. As part of the fun a group of people went up to the Aventis car park in Norwich at dawn this morning and leafleted workers arriving for work.  Most seemed unaware of the takeover and were interested. The leaflet, which is reproduced is a little inaccurate, as the Bayer take over is not until March, but it gives some background on Bayer and how great it will be to trust GM to such an ethical bunch of people!

(or why you are being sold again)

Today sees the sale of Aventis CropScience to German pharmaceutical giants Bayer. As you will no doubt be aware, the company is first in the queue to market Genetically Modified crops in Britain and across Europe. This is currently being held up at both national and European level while fears about the potential environmental impact of these novel crops are investigated. But the biggest problem for the GM industry has been, and remains, the public image of the technology, its products and the companies who push them. Monsanto’s humiliation by the anti-GM lobby was complete, and consumers were turned off in their droves, despite a huge and costly media campaign by the company. And who looks to take up the mantle? Of course, the very company you work for. And who’ll get in the neck when this massive investment proves fruitless? You again.


That’s up to you, but here are some points of history to help you decide;

* In 1895, Bayer trademarked HEROIN and marketed it worldwide as cough medicine

* During WW2, Bayer’s factories made full use of forced labour from the concentration camps, and one of its subsidiaries manufactured the poison gas used in the notorious death chambers at Auschwitz and elsewhere.

* Bayer was one of a group of companies who took the South African government to court over their sanctioning of the cheap production of generic HIV drugs.

* Last year, Bayer was forced to withdraw its anti-cholesterol drug Baycol after it was linked to over 50 deaths

* Bayer failed to disclose crucial safety information during trials of antibiotic Ciproxin, putting hundreds of lives at risk

* Bayer used its financial muscle to stifle criticism of its operations when it forced German based campaign group Bayerwatch to rename its website and relinquish right to the name.


* Find out more or tell us more @
* Argue from within that GM crops are bad for business, the environment and the community
* Act alone or with others to sabotage the companies GM ambitions
* Quit


2. Activists Oppose Promotion of Genetically Modified Products From US

Korea Times
January 25, 2002, Friday

Local environmentalists yesterday demanded visiting U.S. trade officials to stop pressuring South Korea to ease regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

"The U.S. must immediately drop all efforts to promote their exports of GMOs in Korea," said about 30 members of South Korean environmental organizations in a rally in front of the Korea Food and Drug Association (KFDA) building in northern Seoul.

Holding picket signs reading, "USA Go Home With Your GMO," the activists accused the United States Trade Representative (USTR) team of "flinging genetically modified products onto Korean food tables for their own national interest." The USTR team, headed by U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Jon Huntsman, arrived in Seoul Monday to discuss contentious trade issues between the two nations, such as easing regulations on agricultural imports, lowering tariff rates on car imports and fine-tuning steel safeguard measures. While visiting the KFDA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. trade officials were said to have requested the South Korean government to ease labeling restrictions on imported GMO products by raising the adventitious threshold level to 5 percent from the current 3 percent.

South Korean food safety laws state that when bioengineered food ingredients exceed more than 3 percent of a product, then it must be labeled as containing GMOs. The labeling system, which was the result of years of civic campaigning, was introduced to promote consumers' rights by specifying whether food products are GMO-free or not.

As the world's biggest producer of genetically modified products, the U.S. is concerned the GMO labeling will have a negative impact on its exports of biotech foods to foreign countries, observers noted.

"The U.S. government must immediately stop applying pressure for the easing of Korean GMO labeling regulations," the activists argued, adding they will send a letter of protest to the USTR to voice their concerns.

"The South Korean government must also express its firm resolve to implement the system," they asserted.

Participating groups included Green Korea United, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and Women's Link.

Meanwhile, KFDA officials denied any reports of Korea accepting the USTR demands, saying, "As we aim to protect consumer rights, we have no intention of easing GMO regulations." In member countries of the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, current labeling rules allow food labeled GMO-free to contain no more than one percent of unintended GMOs, while Japan allows up to five percent.

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