Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. April 10, 2001




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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 Argentina. 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?"



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