ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

29 October 2001


*NZ: Clean, green and untrue
*India: BT cotton a multinational ploy
*India: Govt depts differ on Gujarat Bt cotton row
*India: BT cotton mix-up shows difficulty of controlling GE crops
*US: USDA's $2.5 million project on consumer GE acceptance
*NZ: Green Party wants ban on GMO field trials
*NZ: What drip sent water-ban e-mail?
*France: Monsanto to get just 1 French Franc for crop removal


Clean, green and untrue, say dairy ads' foes

Genetic science? Never heard of it. That's what the dairy industry wants British consumers to believe, but anti-GM groups say New Zealand's richest industry is telling big fibs. Greenpeace and the Auckland Anti-GE Coalition say billboards advertising Anchor butter all over Britain are "completely hypocritical". They depict New Zealand cows grazing on rolling green paddocks above the words: "Modern farming? We're 75 years behind, thank goodness". Greenpeace campaigner Annette Cotter says: "It just shows the hypocrisy when [the dairy industry] is aggressively promoting genetic engineering for animals and animal feed here in New Zealand." (New Zealand Herald)


Bt cotton a MNC ploy: RSS farmers' wing

The Times of India October 28, 2001

GANDHINAGAR/AHMEDABAD: The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the powerful farmers' wing of the Sangh Parivar , has cautioned the state government on the Bt gene cotton seed controversy following the Centre's directive to burn the crop in Gujarat even as the BJP's political leadership here is convinced that the genetically- engineered seed is good for farmers.

The BKS is in no mood to accept the state government's argument that the genetically-engineered seed is harmless or that India's pesticides' lobby is behind the campaign against the new seed. The BKS leadership considers the seed an attempt by foreign multinational companies to impose on India "farming techniques that would make us subservient to the West". Speaking to the Times News Network here on Friday, the outfit s all-India secretary Jivanbhai Patel, state treasurer Bababhai Patel and north Gujarat secretary Mangalbhai Patel said the seed was an attack on swadeshi and was part of the WTO strategy to make farmers dependent on foreign seeds. "We have yet to know the results of the genetically-engineered cotton seed sown by farmers, but the fact is there is a clear attempt to impose on us what are called terminator seeds," Mangalbhai said. Added Jivanbhai, "We are not against foreign technology or seeds.

"But if the West is seeking to impose on us what are actually impotent seeds, making the farmers approach MNCs only to buy them before every season, then we are certainly against it. Its environmental impact needs to be examined thoroughly. If the Centre wants the crop to be burnt, then one has to see the reasons behind this." He said if the crop is burnt, the farmers must be paid full compensation by the company that provided them with the seeds. A BKS delegation would meet chief minister Narendra Modi on Sunday to give a memorandum on WTO which would also mention the cotton seed controversy. Stating that one should not forget the Andhra Pradesh experience, Mangalbhai said: "Failure to get the proper price for a new variety of cotton crop made several cotton farmers commit suicide in that state. One hopes that situation does not arise here."

State agriculture minister Purshottam Rupala and Union textile minister Kashiram Gujarat have already reacted sharply against the the Centre's directive to burn down the crop sown from the genetically-engineered seed on the ground that the farmers' production costs are down as they did not have to use pesticides. Former agriculture minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma has also favoured cultivation of genetically-engineered cotton as its quality and yield are far better than the traditional cotton produced in Saurashtra and central and south Gujarat districts.

Chudasma said: "There was nothing wrong in going ahead with cultivation of genetic cotton which has been accepted by several European countries and even countries like China."


Govt depts differ on Gujarat Bt cotton row

NEW DELHI: Even as the controversy over illegally grown Bt cotton in Gujarat rages on, there is another storm brewing with interested ministries taking contradictory stands on how to handle it. Today, department of biotechnology secretary Manju Sharma spoke strongly in favour of "protecting" the interests of farmers. What is interesting though is that she was not talking compensation (that, she said was an issue for the state government to worry about) and added in the same breath that Bt. cotton with Cry 1 A (C) gene was "perfectly safe." However the ministry of agriculture is clear that with India being free from transgenic crops, there was no other option but to destroy the cotton crops in Gujarat. Speaking to The Economic Times, agriculture commissioner C R Hazra, said that if harvest was allowed, it would set a very bad precedent, robbing the law of all sanctity. He expressed fear that the seeds had already found their way to Punjab and Haryana as well. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee - an inter-ministerial group - was the only body authorised to allow cultivation and take action, he pointed out. It may be noted that GEAC, which had decided, just months ago, to disallow cultivation of Bt cotton on the ground that further field trials were needed, has a representative of DBT on board. (The Economic Times)


BT cotton mix-up shows difficulty of controlling GM crops

MUMBAI, India, Oct 25, 2001: Three years ago, Indian farmers angry at illegal trials of transgenic Bt cotton torched fields in southwestern Karnataka state. This time, the fields are being burned by the Indian government, which recently discovered thousands of hectares that had been planted with transgenic cotton without the government's knowledge or approval.

...This "raises serious questions about the ability of developing nations to regulate the introduction of GM varieties," K.S. Jayaraman wrote in the magazine Nature. E.A. Siddiq, chairman of the Indian Department of Biotechnology's committee on transgenic crops, was quoted as saying: "This is a foretaste of a frightening situation where transgenics will be out of control and all over the place." Last week, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the ministry of environment, which gives approval for the research into and use of GMOs, ordered the torching of the standing crop of Bt cotton, which is almost ready to be harvested in Gujarat. It has called for a meeting on Oct. 31 to ask Navbharat Seeds to explain how it came to sell the cotton seeds without permission - not least because the Indian government has not yet allowed commercial production of GM crops. On Jun. 19, the GEAC said that trials of Bt cotton, done by Mahyco, should be conducted for another year and halted the commercial release of Bt cotton until this was done. Navbharat's managing director, Dr D.B. Desai, has been quoted as saying he would reserve comment for now, but reports say the seeds were probably imported from the United States and crossed with an Indian cotton variety. Meanwhile, the Gujarat farmers are furious that the government wants to burn their fields without any mention of compensation. After giving orders to burn the cotton crop in Gujarat, the GEAC has withdrawn into silence. But P.K. Ghosh, adviser to the Department of Biotechnology, said the GEAC has given orders to burn the fields and it is now up to the Gujarat government to act fast. The company which sold the seeds, Navbharat, and the farmers who bought the seeds are both at fault, he adds. They can be punished under the environmental protection act and the polluter - in this case the seed company - must pay, he explains. But the Gujarat government has yet to carry out the GEAC order, and is more worried about working out compensation for farmers. For its part, the Department of Biotechnology, eager to push transgenic crops, has been making repeated statements that there is no problem from its perspective. (Inter Press Service via COMTEX)


Rutgers' Food Policy Institute awarded 2.5 million from USDA for food

What do we know about how the public perceives biotechnology, and to what degree does our understanding help to guide policy makers, regulators, consumers, farmers, food firms, and those in the biotechnology industry? Unfortunately, the answer is, "not much," says Dr. Bill Hallman, principal investigator of a $2.5 million project to evaluate consumer acceptance of biotechnology in the United States. The USDA awarded the grant to the Food Policy Institute, a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional institute based at Cook College and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station...."The knowledge generated through this program will aid companies and the agricultural community in their understanding of factors driving consumer attitudes toward food biotechnology, inform policy makers of the concerns and needs of consumers, and help in the design and delivery of an appropriate message and awareness campaigns." (Ascribe News)


NZ Green Party wants ban on GMO field trials

WELLINGTON: New Zealand's Green Party wants the minority government to impose an indefinite ban on field trials of genetically modified organisms. Jeanette Fitzsimons, the party's parliamentary Co-leader, told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday, her party fears that if the government gives the greenlight to permitting field trials of GMOs, that might irrevocably damage the organic farming sector in the short-term. It could also, she said, damage the country's long-term potential to fully cash in on New Zealand's "clean green image" among overseas food consumers, many of whom are increasingly wary of genetically modified food, she added. (Dow Jones Newswires)


The Evening Post (Wellington) October 25, 2001

What drip sent water-ban e-mail?


The Green Party does not support a ban on water, and Greens health spokeswoman Sue Kedgley says National environment spokesman Nick Smith is a "drip" for suggesting such a thing. Dr Smith said today that Ms Kedgley's office had sent back a supportive response to a hoax e-mail calling for a ban on dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) - more commonly known as water. He said this showed the Greens were "scientifically illiterate" and sought to ban anything with a name they did not understand. The original e-mail, from a person called Philip Gully, described DHMO as a chemical used in nuclear power plants and chemical industries. "It is colourless, tasteless and kills uncounted thousands of people each year... The chemical is commonly found in pre-cancerous cells and is prevalent in acid rain. In its solid state DHMO causes some tissue damage and in gaseous form severe burns."

The reply e-mail from Ms Kedgley's staff member said she would be "absolutely supportive" of the campaign, but was already too busy working on other issues. But Ms Kedgley said the staff member was a temporary secretary who had never consulted her on the e-mail and as it turned out was a little "wet around the ears". She said she would never give her support to a cause without first seeing a lot of information. She said the staff member had now been replaced by a permanent secretary aware of Green Party procedures. She said it was likely the original e-mail was part of a "National Party dirty tricks campaign" to embarrass the Greens on its genetic engineering stance.

"Obviously Nick Smith is a drip and it's a measure of desperation when you try to set up someone in this way."

Dr Smith said the e-mail showed "how naive and unscientific the Greens are and illustrates why the Government should ignore their extreme views to ban genetic technologies from New Zealand". A spokeswoman for Dr Smith said he and his staff were not involved in sending the hoax e-mail.


Le Monde in French October 27, 2001

Monsanto France

Monsanto France, the French subsidiary of US agrochemicals group Monsanto, is to receive just FFr1 (one French Franc) in damages following the destruction of a crop of genetically modified corn on 8 August by environmentalists. (Abstracted from Le Monde)

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