Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. - April 1, 2001.




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- Thomas Edison

Cancer is a political problem more than it is a medical problem.

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food," said Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job." 
- New York Times, October 25, 1998

"What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it's doing are as different as night and day." - Dr. Herbert Ley, Former FDA Commissioner

"The FDA serves as the pharmaceutical industry's watchdog, which can be called upon to attack and destroy a potential competitor under the guise of protecting the public." - Dr. James P. Carter  


The following information courtesy of Richard Wolfson, PhD, Consumer Right to Know Campaign for Mandatory labeling and long-term testing of genetically engineered food.

Biotech News
by Richard Wolfson

Reprinted with permission from the April 2001 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition.

Failure of Genetically Engineered Goods

Monsanto Bullies Farmers

Agribusiness giant Monsanto has warned Argentina it may shut some operations in  the country if the government does not loosen restrictions on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Argentina only allows production of GE crops if the crops have been approved in the European Union. The country does not want to produce crops it can't sell on the international market.

Monsanto was planning to open an $8 million cotton processing plant in Argenetina. However, the company is threatening not to open the plant unless Argentina approves its herbicide resistant Roundup Ready biotech cotton, which is banned in Europe.

"Modified" Free

Loblaws, Canada's largest grocery store chain, has introduced a line of genetically engineered-free food products. Under the label President's Choice Organics, the company is releasing 20 to 25 organic products this year. The products are free of genetically engineered ingredients.

The Big Carrot in Toronto and Circling Dawn Organic Foods in Vancouver have lead the way in Canada in removing GE food products from their shelves. The task was enormous because GE ingredients from soy (flour, oil, lecithin, etc.), corn (corn starch, oil, syrup, sweeteners), and canola oil are used in hundreds of foods. Dozens of products were removed, particularly in cookie, crackers, and chip sections.

More Trouble for StarLink

Japan's Health Ministry sent back 1,500 tonnes of corn from the USA after tests showed the shipment contained unapproved genetically engineered StarLink corn. The announcement came one day after the USA agreed to test all corn exports to Japan before they left USA to ensure they didn't contain StarLink.  Japan, the single biggest buyer of US corn, has cut purchases sharply due to StarLink contamination.

Also in the US, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is requiring Aventis CropScience to issue a $25 million bond to compensate farmers and grain handlers for lossed incurred through contamination with GE StarLink corn.

Aventis, the manufacturer of StarLink, is blamed for failing to properly manage the introduction of StarLink into the marketplace and inform farmers of the need to segregate it. StarLink is not approved for human consumption.

No Frankenspuds in Oregon

Oregon farmers are refusing to grow Monsanto's genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes. Potato growers are responding to consumer pressure and large potato processors who will not take the biotech spuds.

Will Wise, President of the Oregon Potato Commission, commented on the biotech potatoes: "There is no known commercial interest in them. There may be some growing here and there, but I don't know of any.  It's all over."

Farmers Foot the Bill

Farmers wishing to grow Monsanto's  biotech crops will have a new contract to sign.  Under the 2001 Technology Agreement, growers have to sign away rights to legal recourse should the crop fail to perform. 

In the past, farmers have sued Monsanto for millions of dollars when its biotech crops failed for various reasons, including inability to adapt to local conditions. This option is no longer available.

Pioneer Sales Stall

Pioneer Hi-Bred, one of the world's largest seed companies, has postponed North American sales of its genetically engineered corn varieties not approved in Europe. The unapproved varieties contain combinations of genes for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.

Landmark Study

In what is being hailed as the first comprehensive and independent review of research on genetically engineered crops, scientists concluded that while biotech crops are already being grown on millions of acres, very little is known about their ecological impact. The likelihood of even the greatest environmental threats is not yet known.  The study was published in the leading journal, Science.

The scientists examined 35 peer-reviewed studies, which were all the studies of high- enough quality to merit publication. They considered a wide variety of environmental risks including herbicide-resistant superweeds, creation of new viral diseases, and harm to non-pest species, such as monarch butterflies. They found inconclusive results. In some cases, laboratory studies suggested risk, but no research had been conducted in the field to test if harm occurred.

The  researchers reported that simple conclusions of environmental risk cannot yet be made because the crucial  studies have not yet been done. After reviewing the article, Dr. Jane Rissler, senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: "You come out of this with a strong sense that we don't know very much about the risks and the benefits. If we don't know, why are we doing this?"


The Independent

Whitehall funds hush-hush production of GM fish

By Severin Carrell and Geoffrey Lean

01 April 2001

Three government ministries are financing the development of genetically modified fish for the dinner table, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

They have already spent 2.6m on unpublicised British research to create fast-growing fish for human consumption despite warnings from official advisers that these will inevitably interbreed with wild species, with incalculable consequences. A further 457,000 has been spent by the European Commission in Britain.

.... nsg

Dutch firm wants to bring transgenic cows to Quebec

WebPosted Sun Apr 1 15:44:31 2001
ST-MARCEL DE RICHELIEU, QUEBEC - The people of  a small Quebec farming village have concerns about a herd of transgenic  cows. The cows are bred by a Dutch-based biotech firm called Pharming Group  N.V. The animals carry a human gene and their milk contains a human-like  protein that can be used to clot blood, grow skin, or fight infection. Pharming Group wants to keep the cows in the village of St-Marcel de  Richelieu, northwest of Montreal. And it went to the town to explain its  proposal. The biotech firm wants to build a $20 million facility and create 40  jobs. That's a big deal in a small, rural Quebec village. But people keep asking, "what about those transgenic cows? Aren't they dangerous?" The promoters swear the cows aren't dangerous. They do carry a human  gene.


Biotech Corn Is Test Case For Industry Engineered Food's Future Hinges on Allergy Study

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 19, 2001; Page A01

Grace Booth had just finished a chicken enchilada lunch with some co-workers when she began to feel hot and itchy. Her lips began to swell, she developed severe diarrhea and soon she was having trouble breathing. Colleagues called an ambulance.

Booth, 35, was rushed from the California youth center where she works to a nearby hospital, apparently suffering from anaphylactic shock. Doctors quickly injected her with anti-allergy medicine, gave her some Benadryl to swallow and put her on an IV. The treatment worked, and after five hours Booth walked out of the hospital.

Several days later, Booth learned that taco shells and other corn products had been recalled nationwide because they were found to contain a genetically modified type of corn called StarLink. The corn had been approved only for animal consumption because of concerns that it might trigger dangerous allergic reactions in people. ....

USDA begins buying StarLink-tainted seed

Updated 4:41 PM ET March 22, 2001
By Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department this  week sent contracts to some 300 seed companies offering to buy seed  potentially contaminated with StarLink, a bioengineered corn variety  not approved for human use, in an effort to keep it out of this year's crop, officials said Thursday.

Earlier this month, the USDA said it would spend about $20 million  to purchase about 1 percent of this year's spring planting corn seed suspected of being tainted with StarLink's Cry9c protein.


March 24, 2001

Farmers Joining State Efforts Against Bioengineered Crops


North Dakota is weighing a bill that would make it the first state to ban planting of a genetically modified crop, reflecting a surge of concern about such crops in legislatures around the country.

The North Dakota bill, which would impose a two-year moratorium on growing genetically modified wheat, is one of more than 40 state bills introduced this year that would regulate biotech crops or the labeling of foods made using genetic engineering.


Researchers Find Big Risk of Defect in Cloning Animals


Four years after researchers cloned a sheep named Dolly, scientists say evidence is mounting that creating healthy animals through cloning is more difficult than they expected.


Italian police raid Monsanto GM stockpile  BBC News - 28 March 2001

Police in Italy have raided a warehouse of US biotech company Monsanto and seized 112 tonnes of genetically modified maize, the use of which is illegal in that country.


Thursday March 29, 9:27 am Eastern Time

Monsanto Italy on "level playing field" with peers

ROME, March 29 (Reuters) - A move by Italian Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio to check seed stocks of 21 firms for illegal genetic material puts Monsanto (NYSE:MON - news) on a ``level playing field'' with its peers, a senior Monsanto official said.

The decision on Thursday follows the seizure of Monsanto maize and soybeans because Italian authorities believed they contained banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


Science, Vol. 291, Issue 5513, 2552
Don't Clone Humans!
Rudolf Jaenisch and Ian Wilmut*

The successes in animal cloning suggest to some that the technology has matured sufficiently to justify its application to human cloning. An in vitro fertilization specialist and a reproductive physiologist recently announced their intent to clone babies within a year's time (1 ). There are many social and ethical reasons why we would never be in favor of copying a person. However, our immediate concern is that this proposal fails to take into account problems encountered in animal cloning.

Since the birth of Dolly the sheep (2), successful cloning has been reported in mice (3), cattle (4), goats (5), and pigs (6, 7 ), and  enough experience has accumulated to realize the risks. Animal cloning  is inefficient and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.  Cloning results in gestational or neonatal developmental failures. At  best, a few percent of the nuclear transfer embryos survive to birth  and, of those, many die within the perinatal period. There is no reason  to believe that the outcomes of attempted human cloning will be any  different. The few cloned ruminants that have survived to term and  appear normal are often oversized, a condition referred to as "large  offspring syndrome" (8). Far more common are more drastic defects that  occur during development. Placental malfunction is thought to be a cause  of the frequently observed embryonic death during gestation. Newborn  clones often display respiratory distress and circulatory problems, the  most common causes of neonatal death. Even apparently healthy survivors  may suffer from immune dysfunction, or kidney or brain malformation,  which can contribute to death later. So, if human cloning is attempted,  those embryos that do not die early may live to become abnormal children  and adults; both are troubling outcomes.


"Genetically Engineered Crops -  A Threat to Soil Fertility?"

Updated version now available at

..     1st April 2001

Experts Call for Allergenicity Testing of all GM Foods

One of the biggest concerns regarding safety of GM foods is about its allergenicity. A group of experts brought together by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) has recently advocated testing of all food modified by biotechnology for allergenicity and has proposed a decision tree for this process.

Richard Wolfson, PhD

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes.



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