ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  27 February 2001


Eleven items from
Reporting Breaking News in the Biotech Food Debate


1.    Hong Kong Mulls Labels for Genetically Modified Food - 26 February (Reuters)

The Hong Kong government proposed on Monday that food containing five percent or more of genetically-modified (GM) material be clearly labeled...
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(1-a)   Hong Kong Anger over GM Food Labeling. news, 27 February. Guidelines for the voluntary labelling of food containing genetically modified ingredients were ``too
loose'' to be effective, legislators said yesterday. They also questioned the need for a 5 per cent threshold for labelling. Under the proposal, only food in which the genetically modified (GM) ingredients exceeded 5 per cent would require labelling. The criticisms followed the release yesterday of the Environment and Food Bureau's three-month, three-option public consultation document on a labelling mechanism for GM food.

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2.    American Corn Growers Reach Out to EU on GMOs   (26 February, PR Newswire)

Speaking to the 9th annual AGROGENE Seminar on Genetic Traceability in Paris, France on February 22, American Corn Grower Association Program Director Dan McGuire praised the European Union as a multi-billion market for U.S. farmers and told seminar participants that
European concerns, not governments, will have the final say on genetically modified crops...

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3.    China Debates Genetically-Modified Agriculture
        (US Embassy Beijing Report on web, 9 February
In China, the debate rages on concerning the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMO's) in
agriculture. Some argue against the use of GMO's, in order to increase agricultural sales in Japan, the EU, and other GMO-shy markets, while others consider the productivity gains possible with GMO's to be essential to the future of any densely populated developing country. China already grows genetically-modified cotton and tobacco, and some forty GMO plant varieties are in the R&D phase. Using genetic engineering to speed the growth of fish, hogs, cattle and sheep is also
being studied. At the same time, China, like other countries, is still working to sort out a consistent and definitive policy concerning the use of GMO's in agriculture. See the December 2000 U.S. Embassy Beijing Foreign Agriculture Service Office report  Current Status of Chinese GMO
Development and Regulation 2000 which is available in full text on the web.

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4.    Biotech Row Rages in Philippines.  Stoppage of GM Research
The Manila Times, Philippines, by Manolo B. Jara, 20 February.   .

THE heated and sometimes bitter debate continues and, this time, biotechnology proponents appear to be on the receiving end. This occurred when President Macapagal-Arroyo made a statement that henceforth, the government would no longer allow research on genetically- altered crops or genetically-modified organisms (GMOs, as they are more popularly known)...  Last week, the President said her government was putting a stop to biotech research, citing a groundswell of opposition to the introduction of GMO crops and foods. "There is great objection to this from civil society. So the Philippines will not be initiating or pushing for this experimentation, she told a Malacang press conference.
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5.    Two Dated FDA Reports: "Report on Consumer Focus Groups on Biotechnology"
        (October 2000.) ,
gives overview of how consumers are interviewed by FDA, and more. Also, FDA "Premarket notice concerning bioengineered foods" (120-day notice policy), 18 January 2001, see: .
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6.    Japan Grain-Corn buyers turn back on US, eye China - 27 Feb.

TOKYO - Japanese importers are likely to shift their corn import source for food use this week to China from the United States on lingering jitters over unapproved gene-spliced StarLink corn, traders said on Monday.  "This week, we expect some importers to seek corn for food use at an export tender by China," said a senior corn trader. Asian traders said China's two authorised exporters will sell corn for March/May shipment in a tender to close on Wednesday. In Beijing,
officials from the exporters - Jilin Grain Group and COFCO - confirmed the tender earlier on Monday.
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7.    Britain's GM TRIALS Affected by BSE Spread. (FOE Release, 26 February)   The next round of genetically modified farm scale trials is under threat following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.   Sixty four GM sites are due to be named later this week, but the Government is believed to be considering their immediate future as concern over foot and mouth deepens.  Biological research was badly hit during the last outbreak in 1967, and may be severely affected if the epidemic worsens. The main concern would be GM fodder maize and fodder beet which should (in theory) be grown on mixed farms or livestock farms.  However, all the trials are potentially under threat.  Pete Riley, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth said (Excerpt):  "The foot and mouth disaster is having implications in the most unexpected areas. If this epidemic takes hold as it did in1967,   the GM farm scale trials could be under threat.  The last thing farming needs is for the foot and month situation to be made worse by scientists travelling between farms
to carrying out research on crops no one wants to buy.  And if the ecological evaluations can't be carried out, there would be no reason for the GM trials to go ahead."
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8.    S.KOREA Government Introduction of GMO labelling Regulations  27 Feb 2001

New regulations governing the labelling of GM food will be introduced in South Korea on 1 March, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Severe consequences face those
retailers who fail to comply with the rules after a six-month guidance period, signifying the importance of the GM issue to South Korean consumers. An official from the ministry explained: "The government came up with the rule in order to provide consumers with sound information on
agricultural products amid the worldwide distribution of GMOs." The new regulations require retailers to fully label the packaging material of genetically modified beans, corn and bean sprouts. If the goods are not packaged, then signs are to be placed nearby to alert consumers to their
GM content.
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9.    New Zealand Maori Congress' Moratorium on Genetic Modification
        'Till Tribunal Claim has been Heard (27 Feb 2001),1227,31131,00.html

Related Story: A group of NZ doctors and researchers is calling for a 10-year moratorium on the field release of genetically modified organisms. ...
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10.    Can biotechnology ease world hunger?  By Rich Pottorff, Chief Economist,
         Doane Agricultural Services Company 26 February

More than 40 biotech crop varieties have been cleared through the federal review process and acreage planted to biotech crops exceeds 100 million acres worldwide. Still, it is not clear that this technology will fulfill its promise to ease world hunger.
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11.    Up With Weeds.

No ill effects from GM crops.  Washington Times, Editorial February 24,2001.

Individuals who believe that the movie, "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" is a documentary for what will happen if genetically modified foods are ever allowed to run wild, in well, the wild, should be relieved by the findingsof a study recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, which convincingly demonstrates exactly the opposite. In what some have called the "longest-term ever" study of its sort, researchers examined the ability of genetically modified foods to spread
out from their agrarian habitat and persist in the wild, while controlling for the ability of non- genetically modified foods to do the same thing.

They studied crops of potatoes, maize, sugar beet and rape seed which had been modified to be resistant to insects and/or herbicides in 12 disparate habitats for a full decade. Their conclusion? "


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