"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- 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.|
April 13, 2001
Sri Lanka announces ban on genetically modified food imports
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka
The government has announced a ban on imports of all genetically modified foods from May 1, a state-run newspaper reported Friday.
The Daily News quoted Health Minister W.D.J Seneviratne as saying that public health inspectors will check all foods entering the country at sea ports and airports. ...
Under the new order, the government will ban the import, manufacture, transport, storage, distribution and sale of any food item that has been produced using genetic engineering technology.
New Scientist News
4-11-2001 Wed, 11 Apr 2001
Safety in numbers
Biodiversity is not just good for the soul - it could help save the planet from global warming too. Biodiversity is not just good for species and the soul. Ecosystems with lots of species, such as virgin rainforests, could help save the planet from global warming too. A new study has found that ecosystems that contain more species are better at soaking the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide - and can be dramatically better at speeding up their rate of absorption as CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise. ...
Reich planted grass species in a variety of combinations in test plots. Then he subjected them to raised levels of CO2 of the kind likely in the real atmosphere within a few decades. He expected the grasses to grow faster because of the well-known CO2 "fertilisation effect". The question was whether they would grow even faster in diverse company. They did. Plots containing 16 species of grasses put on five times more extra growth than grass monocultures. The results spectacularly confirm that biologically diverse ecosystems will bloom better in a greenhouse world. His explanation is that more complex ecosystems, with more species in them, can make more efficient use of the available natural resources, including the CO2.
There's a Fly's Gene in My Soup
Resistance to genetically modified foods heats up in India, where about 500 million people are vegetarians. They don't want meat proteins injected into their food.
Manu Joseph reports from Mumbai.
WHO SHOULD BE WATCHING MONSANTO
Page: a 2
Who should be watching Monsanto?
Byline: Randy Burton of The StarPhoenix, Straight Talk
The 30,000 people who grow Monsanto's Roundup Ready canola can take some solace from last week's court ruling that clipped farmer Percy Schmeiser's wings.
The courts will uphold the company's patent protection on its product and Schmeiser's liability for infringement of it is going to serve as a legal scarecrow for anyone thinking of doing likewise. Thus, the issue of fairness is addressed, and Monsanto's profits are protected, a big issue now that patent protection on Roundup has expired.
But what about those farmers who don't grow GM canola and don't want to? If they wind up with Roundup Ready canola on their land through no fault of their own, who's to say that Monsanto won't come after them, too?
Remember, the Federal Court did not find that Schmeiser was guilty of "brown-bagging," that is, buying the seed privately from another grower and then planting it. All the court determined was that Schmeiser had the seed on his land and he either knew that, or should have known it. How it got there was never determined. On the balance of probabilities, the court found that the amount of seed found in Schmeiser's crop could not have blown onto his fields, as he claimed. Accordingly, he was found to have infringed Monsanto's patent. So the courts won't accept the claim that 90 per cent of a crop could have blown onto the land. It did not rule on what
an acceptable number might be, though. Would 50 per cent trigger a lawsuit? Ten per cent? Five?
And what of Monsanto's responsibility to control its own product? Under the present circumstances, any farmer with volunteer Roundup Ready canola in his fields is expected to call Monsanto and have them come and deal with it, either through yanking out the offending plants one by one, or spraying the entire field with 2,4-D or whatever it might take to kill them.
This is small consolation for the conventional farmer who doesn't want any part of GM crops. Why, he or she might well ask, is Monsanto not keeping its genes in its own pocket?
It's a question that will be asked with increasing regularity as the evidence mounts on the migratory abilities of GM canola. It would appear to be a much larger problem than Monsanto is prepared to admit. While the Federal Court was agonizing over what to do about Percy Schmeiser, The Royal Society of Canada also took a look at the issue, and suggested herbicide resistant canola is beginning to develop into a major weed problem on the prairies.
"Indeed, some weed scientists predict that volunteer canola could become one of Canada's most serious weed problems because of the large areas of the Prairie provinces that are devoted to this crop," the society said in a major report on biotechnology released just six weeks ago.
If that's the case, then the Schmeiser ruling should be very worrisome for conventional canola producers, says E. Ann Clark, an associate professor of plant agriculture at the University of Guelph.
"What is to stop Monsanto from coming out to your farm and saying aha, we'll take it away, but unless you give us this amount of money, we will sue you. It worked with Schmeiser and it'll work with you," Clark said in an interview.
"So what is it that gives western Canadian farmers confidence that by informing Monsanto of the presence of their genetics on their farm that they're not putting their own neck in a noose?" Clark asks.
Monsanto's strategy in protecting its patents has been to fight a few high-profile cases like Schmeiser's in the courts, and negotiate out-of-court settlements with everyone else. These settlements are usually subject to confidentiality agreements so secrecy is maintained. "Farmers have a choice. They can act en masse now, or they can be picked off one at a time," Clark says.
If they chose, farmers could launch a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for contaminating their land with unwanted genetic material, and demand the courts establish appropriate safeguards, Clark said. "It's not possible to build a fence big enough and not possible for Monsanto to go onto enough farms often enough to prevent the movement of proprietary genetics onto farms where it was not purchased."
The situation is complicated by the fact canola can remain dormant in the soil for 10 years before it grows.
Clark argues it was irresponsible for the Canadian government to have approved genetically modified canola in the first place because they knew it couldn't be controlled.
Far from clarifying the situation, the Schmeiser case has succeeded only in demonstrating how vulnerable farmers are to the inherent pitfalls of the world of genetic manipulation.
Graem Bowbrick, ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS from British Columbia (Canada) has introduced Bill 18 on GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD LABELLING ACT
Government of Canada to Sign International Biosafety Agreement
OTTAWA, April 5, 2001 - Canada will sign an international agreement to regulate the movement across international borders of living organisms modified by modern biotechnology.
The goal of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, negotiated under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, is to protect biodiversity while permitting trade of living modified plants, animals and microorganisms.
Biodiversity is defined under the Convention on Biological Diversity as the "variability among living organisms from all sources."
"Canada already has a domestic regulatory framework for biotechnology products," said Environment Minister the David Anderson. "Our signature to the Protocol demonstrates our continued commitment to international cooperation and builds on our domestic and international actions to protect the environment and human health," he said.
Many of the living modified organisms that will be regulated under the Protocol are agricultural products including corn, canola, potatoes and soybeans. As a significant producer, importer and exporter of these products, Canada is taking an active part in the international preparations for the Protocol's implementation.
"We will take a leadership role in achieving a Protocol that is workable and protects the environment without causing unnecessary trade disruptions," said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief.
Signing the Protocol is the first step in a two-step decision process for Canada. Canada will consider ratification of the Protocol based on progress achieved in international discussions and decisions on how it can most effectively be implemented by Canada. Signing the Protocol will ensure that Canada is a full participant in the ongoing international discussions.
Environment Minister David Anderson will sign the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for Canada at a meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in New York on April 19.
Eighty-six countries have signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to date, and two have ratified it. The Protocol will come into force 90 days after 50 countries ratify it, likely within two or three years.
Canada's views on the interpretation of the Protocol and objectives for its implementation are set out in a statement to be published in the Canada Gazette on April 7. The text of the statement is attached.
Canada played a key role in developing the Protocol and in brokering the consensus between exporter countries and importer countries in the final negotiations in January 2000 in Montréal. Canada will continue to work to ensure that developing countries can implement the Protocol effectively. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provides resources for capacity building and other activities to enable these countries to effectively implement the Protocol. Contributions to the GEF are negotiated among donor nations, which include Canada.
For Immediate Release Monday, April 2, 2001
NGOs refuse to participate in government consultations on genetic engineering
Ottawa - A significant number of Canadian NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) are refusing to take part in what they refer to as a "fundamentally flawed" consultation set up by the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee (CBAC) secretariat. They believe that public policy should be made by Parliament through legislation, not in closed-door discussions within Cabinet.
"These consultations are a poor substitute for democracy, especially for an important subject such as genetically engineered foods" says Brewster Kneen, Editor of monthly newsletter of food system analysis, the Ram's Horn, "This debate belongs in Parliament. The Government should institute parliamentary hearings and insist on a moratorium on any further releases of GE products until those hearings have taken place."
The little known CBAC will begin a cross-Canada tour, ostensibly to hold a 'discussion' with Canadians about genetically engineered foods. The purpose of CBAC, a committee set up by the 7 ministers currently coordinating biotech issues, is to 'assist the government of Canada in the formulation of public policy on biotechnology.' Its impartiality is suspect , however, as CBAC is housed in the office of the Canadian Biotechnology Secretariat within Industry Canada, an agency whose aim is to promote biotechnology.
So far, 50 NGOs and CSOs from coast to coast have signed a letter, indicating to the Government that they will not participate in CBAC's consultations which they believe could 'legitimize CBAC's wholly inadequate mandate and process, and undermine demands for true democratic processes and widespread public consultation.' The petition is currently being circulated across Canada. These concerns will be tabled in a written submission to CBAC.
Signatory NGOs and CSOs, concerned that genetically engineered foods have been introduced without proper assessment of their potential hazardous impact on the human, environmental, social, and economic health of this country, state that they are not happy with the fact that these concerns are not reflected in the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy and in the structure of CBAC.
"The basic concerns of Canadians are not reflected in the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy, a document clearly biased towards the industry. These concerns are also not reflected in the composition of CBAC's advisory committee. Virtually all of those nominated by NGOs and CSOs, including prominent and qualified Canadians were rejected," says Nadège Adam, Health Protection Campaigner for the Council of Canadians.
"Since this Government is unwilling to adopt recommendations from the Royal Society of Canada, one has to be skeptical that they would pay much attention to ours," adds Eric Darier, GE campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.
- 30 -
For more information:
Nadège Adam, Council of Canadians, ph: (613) 233-4487, ext. 245, cell:
Eric Darier, Greenpeace, ph: (514) 933-0021, cell: (514) 240-6497, and
Brewster Kneen, ph: (250) 675-4866
From: Saskatchewan Eco Network <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject:
Schmeiser-Monsanto news stories Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
FARMER PONDERS APPEAL OF GENE PATENT DECISION Schmeiser receiving calls of support; suit better idea, prof says
By Murray Lyons of The StarPhoenix
April 3, 2001
Percy Schmeiser says he'll launch an appeal in his gene patent case with Monsanto if supporters will help him raise the $60,000 he estimates the legal action will cost.
Last week a Federal Court of Canada judge found Schmeiser infringed on Monsanto's patented Roundup Ready gene - technology that allows farmers to grow canola that can survive Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.
Since the court decision last Thursday, Schmeiser said he's received more than 300 calls from farmers and supporters around the world.
"They want me definitely to appeal. Big organizations and foundations have also been in contact with me and they are going to see what kind of a package they can put together - and that's worldwide," said the 70-year-old Bruno farmer.
University of Saskatchewan law Prof. Martin Phillipson, who has followed the case and read the ruling, said Schmeiser would be better off pursuing his countersuit against Monsanto, rather than appealing the patent case, since the countersuit raises environmental issues.
"An intellectual property case is not the forum where those wider issues can be discussed, much as Percy may have tried to raise them," he said. "The judge just wasn't buying it.
"This case was just decided on the facts of whether Percy was using Monsanto's technology without a licence."
Although the case attracted copious publicity because it's the first time Monsanto has sued a Canadian farmer, Phillipson said it wasn't a groundbreaking intellectual property case, since Canadian law established about 10 years ago that a gene or a microbe can be patented.
It's not surprising the judge ruled a farmer doesn't have the right to use a patented plant gene that arrives on his property because it was blown there or transferred by pollen, he said.
"Patents are a very blunt instrument," the law professor said. "Even if you don't know you're using it, it doesn't matter and the judge makes that quite clear."
But Phillipson said Schmeiser's counterclaim, if it's pursued, could prove interesting as Saskatchewan environmental protection legislation defines pollution quite broadly and that might include genetically modified (GM) plants or seeds.
"You could easily find that GM pollen could be a pollutant and then we'd have some big issues on whether they can control their technology and would Monsanto start compensating people for any sort of GM contamination," Phillipson said.
"Again, I wish an organic farmer would bring this case forward as there has been a few cases in Britain where they were trying to get injunctions to stop them from planting next to an organic farmer."
Longtime Saskatchewan canola grower Bill Cooper, of the Foam Lake area, said farmers are generally supportive of new crop technology, but he worries for farmers who have taken the time and expense to go organic and whose price premiums are threatened by the increased incidents of GM plants popping up in the countryside.
As well, the former head of the Saskatchewan Canola Council said he didn't like learning from the trial testimony Monsanto had tested samples from road allowances in its investigations of farmers.
"The company has very much an obligation to go and deal with the farmer in his own yard."
CANADIAN HONEY BANNED IN EUROPE
April 3, 2001
Canadian beekeepers say they're powerless to do anything about new European regulations banning Canadian honey because it isn't certified GMO-free.
CBC reports trace amounts of GMO canola have been found in Canadian honey shipments.
That has led to a ban in Europe and could potentially cost beekeepers a substantial amount of income. The European move has already driven down honey prices.
Canadian beekeepers say they have no control over the plants visited by their bees and there are plenty of canola and wheat fields in their foraging area. They also say they're helpless to do anything about the ban because it's expensive to test honey samples for GMO content.
After filtration, honey is left with just 0.1 per cent pollen, the article says. A Canadian Honey Council spokesman said that's a very small percentage and, on that basis, the product should be declared GMO-free.
The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Don't risk wheat sales by approving this seed LEAD EDITORIAL
The Canadian Wheat Board has no health or environmental concerns about genetically modified wheat, but is dead set against it nonetheless. This apparent illogic is rooted in the best logic of all: pure practicality.
Officials from the Winnipeg-based board are in Ottawa this week to lobby federal politicians and officials, including Agriculture Minister Ralph Goodale, to reject an application from U.S. food giant Monsanto to allow genetically modified wheat to be grown in Canada.
The board's argument is simply that its biggest customers worldwide, in Europe and Japan and other parts of Asia, refuse to buy genetically modified wheat. No country in the world currently grows genetically modified wheat. If it is permitted in Canada, there will be enormous problems with identifying and segregating the new strain, argues Earl Geddes, the board's vice-president of farmer relations.
Although the wheat board has invested in a research project to develop a cheap, simple test to detect genetically modified wheat when it is delivered to the elevator, nothing is available yet. Mr. Geddes believes the first time the Japanese discover modified wheat in a shipment, Canada's sales will plummet. Indeed, he believes buyers will turn elsewhere even before problems occur, not willing to trust that the crops can be effectively segregated.
It's unfortunate that buyers worldwide continue to fear genetically modified wheat in the absence of scientific evidence of any risk. It's also unfortunate that Canada is in a position of rejecting a product because of those unfair fears. But given the scandal in the United States when U.S. genetically modified corn became intermingled with unmodified corn, worries about harm to Canada's wheat industry are legitimate.
As the world's second-largest exporter of wheat, Canada cannot get ahead of its market on such an important product. Until Monsanto is able to address international worries and build a demand, there's no reason for Canada to put sales at risk.
While such crops as canola, soybeans and corn are now genetically modified -- although not accepted in markets such as Europe -- wheat has been a late arrival. Even in the free-enterprise bastion of the United States, farm groups are objecting to modified wheat, citing the same international buyer concerns. Monsanto has already scrapped its genetically modified potato because of buyer resistance.
Yet Monsanto is investing huge sums in its efforts to persuade the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to approve modified wheat, saying the product will be ready for sale as early as 2003 and there are no scientific grounds for rejection.
Monsanto has done a poor job of explaining to consumers why they need genetically modified products, especially in markets in Europe where food safety is especially a public concern. Until it can convince buyers, the wheat board rightly argues that the business risks outweigh the business benefits.
EXPERTS CALL FOR ALLERGENICITY TESTING OF ALL GM FOODS April 1, 2001
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. The FAO/WHO consultation was a follow up to one held last year which addressed overall safety of GM foods and pin-pointed allergenicity as an area of concern. 28 experts, including people from government and research backgrounds and some industry representatives, met in January this year.
IS MEXICO GETTING STRONG-ARMED ON BIOTECH LABELING? March 29, 2001
>From Defenders of Wildlife Rural UPdates.
The Mexican Senate has unanimously approved a bill calling for mandatory labeling of biotech foods - and a cadre of US trade groups are trying to block final passage in the Mexican House of Deputies. On February 4th, the American Farm Bureau Federation and approximately 20 other groups sent a letter to US officials urging them to intervene "at the most senior levels" to "prevent this legislation from becoming Mexican law." The letter urged them to use President Bush's "upcoming visit to Mexico" and was sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoelick. Moreover, the letter conveyed wording that could be interpreted as a threat to Mexico regarding their favorable trade status. "The ramifications (of mandatory labeling) to US farmers, grain handlers, food companies and biotechnology providers" said the letter, "would be enormous and threaten our favorable relations with Mexico as an ally and NAFTA trading partner." The letter also stated that labeling "would not only confuse and mislead Mexican consumers about the safety inherent in biotech foods but also create a negative precedent for NAFTA." With the upcoming Free Trade for the America's next month in Quebec, news of this letter is sure to reverberate widely throughout the global trade and biotechnology communities. The Mexican House of Deputies is expected to vote on this bill soon. Karil L. Kochendorfer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (202) 295 3927 was the contact person mentioned on the letter.
BRAZIL''S NEW, PRODUCTIVE NON-GMO CORN HYBRIDS COULD MAKE IT A MAJOR EXPORT COMPETITOR
March 27, 2001
Jerry Carlson/Dr. Michael Cordonnier
Brazilian Grain Exports Surpassing Last Year's Level At the present rate, exports of soybeans and corn out of the Port of Paranagua, Brazil, should surpass all previous levels, reports our South American agronomic consultant, Dr. Michael Cordonnier. An earlier report was sent to his clients, and we are excerpting from the report below:
-- From January 1st until today, the port at Paranagua has moved 50% more tons of grain exports this year as compared to last year. The biggest difference this year is a sharp increase in corn exports.
--From Jan. 1 until last Friday, 49,000 trucks have arrived at the port this year compared to 19,000 during the same period last year.
This increase in truck traffic coupled with the fact that this year they are bringing both corn and soybeans has led to very long lines of trucks waiting to unload. In spite of the long lines of trucks, the loading operations at the port are moving along smoothly and the wait time for vessels arriving at the port is still in the range of 16-17 days.
Thus far during the 2001 shipping season, between 1.5-1.7 million tons of Brazilian corn has either already been shipped or will be shipped in the next few weeks. It is expected that corn exports will start to decline during
April and May and then pick up again in the June-August period. Most of the corn export contracts being signed now in Brazil are for June, July or August shipments.
Corn shipments out of Brazil will be stretched out for two main reasons.
First of all, freight rates tend to decrease once the soybean harvest is
complete and the demand for trucks declines. So it will be cheaper to move the corn in the June-August period.
Secondly, the ports will be very congested for the next few months loading out Soybeans and soybean meal. If they wait a few months to load the corn, then the waiting time for the vessels at the port will be much less thus saving both time and money.
Brazil will produce approximately two million tons of corn in excess of domestic consumption this year with the excess being exported mainly to Europe. It was originally thought that Brazil would export 1.5-2.0 million tons of corn, but that estimate has now proven to be too low. It is now
estimated that Brazil will export between 2.0-2.5 million tons and there is a remote chance that it might reach 3.0, but I think that is unlikely.
Brazilian corn exports could end up being in the upper range if their second corn crop is good and the Real stays relatively weak. The exports will be in the lower range if the second corn crop is disappointing or if the Real strengthens. Last year, Brazilians planted a lot more corn due to a domestic shortfall and very high domestic prices.
If the second corn crop is disappointing again, then domestic prices could surpass the world price and then the corn would stay within the country.
The total production of the second corn crop won't be known until later in June and that will be a major factor influencing domestic corn prices which in turn will influence corn exports.
Most people view Brazil as mainly a soybean producer. The reality is that Brazil regularly produces more corn than it does soybeans. This corn is used primarily to support a large poultry industry located mainly in southern Brazil. Brazil is the second largest exporter of chicken parts after the United States.
The surprise in South America this year has been the increase in Brazilian corn production and the fact that they are now exporting corn to the world market.
Total Brazilian corn production this year is estimated at 38 million tons which is 6 million tons or 19% above the 1999-00 production. Many people are wondering if this was a one year aberration -- or is Brazil poised to become a consistent corn exporter? For the 2001-02 crop, it is estimated that Brazil will reduce its corn acres 5-10% below this year's level, but it would still be higher than two years ago.
This estimate is based on continued weak soybean and corn prices through this summer. There are indications though that in spite of weak corn prices, Brazil will continue to expand its corn production in the next few years to become a major player in the world corn markets.
This increase in corn production will primarily occur in the new expansion areas of central Brazil. In southern Brazil, most of the arable land is already in production, whereas in central Brazil, there are millions of acres of
Cerrado that could be transformed into agricultural production. The seed companies have now developed corn hybrids well adapted to this hot and humid climate and corn yields now are much improved over just a few years ago.
Poultry and swine operations are moving into central Brazil and this will increase the demand for corn in the region. Infrastructure improvements will also make it more economical to ship corn out of this region to consuming areas in southern Brazil or to export facilities. And lastly, corn is being looked on as a rotation needed to break the cycle of continuous soybeans so common in Brazil.
This rotational corn could be planted as a second crop or as a as a full season corn crop. There are also some intangibles at work here as well. The Europeans bought corn from Brazil because to some degree, they were concerned about Starlink and other GMO issues.
Brazilian corn is non GMO and that is not expected to change in the near future. Many people in Brazil believe that if they can remain largely GMO free, they could develop into a viable alternative for anyone seeking non GMO products. If Brazil demonstrates that they can be a reliable supplier of corn exports, then Brazil would not only compete with the U.S. in soybean production, it would also become a player in the world corn market.
GERMAN FARMING WILL BE MORE NATURAL DESPITE COSTS: MINISTER March 31, 2001
Agence France Presse English
BERLIN -- Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast has, according to this story, promised Germany will turn increasingly to natural farming methods, even though it will add to the costs the sector already faces because of the mad cow crisis. Kuenast was cited as saying late Friday that Berlin hopes to increase the amount of German land being farmed organically -- without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers -- from 2.4 percent to 20 percent over the next 10 years.
From 2002 to 2005, the government would invest 250 million euros (218 million dollars) in organic farming, she added during a speech in Berlin. But she kept to her tough line regarding Germany's regional governments, which have called for extra federal aid to cope with the mad cow crisis, which has, the story says, been blamed on intensive, industrial methods, stating, "It is not for the consumers or the taxpayers to take on 100 percent of the consequences of bad agricultural policy." The story says that the total costs of the crisis is thought to be two billion marks (1.02 billion euros, 890 million dollars). Eleven of Germany's 16 states have been affected by mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The southern state of Bavaria has been the hardest hit with 24 cases.
Europeans refusing Canadian honey because of GMOs
CBC WebPosted Fri Mar 30 17:36:07 2001
REGINA - Beekeepers are worried about genetically modified crops because their bees are pollenating the crops and so, some European countries are refusing to buy Canadian honey.
European countries won't buy products with any amount of genetically modified organisms.
That worries Wink Howland. Trace amounts of GMO canola have been found in his honey.
Howland runs a successful honey business out of Yorkton. He says beekeepers are going to be sustaining huge financial losses because of it.
"Until they receive it, they examine it, they say, ah, it has GMO pollen in it. We're sending it back, or at your expense, or we're going to seize it... or we're not going to pay for it," says Howland, who is also vice-president of the Canadian Honey Council.
GMO testing too expensive for beekeepers
The problem surrounds the many canola fields in the province, wheat that has been genetically modified. Beekeepers have no control over where their bees go to pollenate.
The European move to stop Canadian honey imports has created a surplus and driven down prices.
Beekeepers say the action took them by surprise and say they are helpless to rectify the problem because it's expensive to test honey samples for GMO content.
After filtration, honey is left with 0.1 per cent pollen and Howland says "if that contains GMO product in a pail of honey, I mean, It's a very small percentage."
Howland says the honey should be declared GMO-free but right now, he sees no other solution.
SURVEY OF SCIENTISTS AND GOVERNMENT MINISTERS EXPOSES COMPLETE LACK OF INDEPENDENT SAFETY TESTING FOR GM FOODS
April 7, 2001
Independent safety tests of Genetically Modified foods have never been carried out. The UK government Department of the Environment Transport and Regions (DETR) has recently announced  a new series of FarmScale Evaluations (FSEs) of GM crops. The announcement includes the phrase: "All of the seeds in the trials have been through years of rigorous safety tests." Unfortunately this statement is simply untrue. A survey carried out by gmfoodnews.com over the last year has shown that no GM seeds or crops have ever been through rigorous safety tests.
THE ACHILLES HEAL OF TRANSGENIC MODIFIED GRAINS
April 6, 2001
Corner Post for CFCO & CKNX
Elbert van Donkersgoed
Roundup Ready wheat is in the pipeline. All technical barriers will be gone in three to five years, including a test that accurately detects .25% of the trait in a shipment of transgenic wheat. Handling systems that preserve the wheat's identity are planned.
But don't count on transgenic wheat being grown in Canada any time soon. Key western Canadian farm groups are requesting a delay in the release of Roundup Ready wheat. Even the Canadian Wheat Board underwrites a goslow agenda.
Why the caution? Something has happened on the way to the marketplace. When Ontario farmers first planted transgenic seeds on their farms the decision was a simple one. They assumed that the regulators had done their job, the seeds were safe for humans, animals and plants. They started out with a test field. Does this new technology really increase production? Is pest control more reliable? Is it a convenient technology to use?
Extensive adoption of transgenic seeds followed because Ontario farm tests had positive results. Farmers made an other assumption. Once produced, these new grains would become part of the bulk undifferentiated commodity marketing system stretching from North American farms to every nation on the globe. This bulk system harvests, trucks, cleans, grades, pools, trains, boats and processes by volume, buying and selling vast quantities of grain sight unseen. A soybean is a soybean. A kernel of corn is a kernel of corn. Not any longer. Transgenic grains are all different, the one caries a gene for pesticide resistance. Another produces its own pesticide. And somebody at the OTHER end of the food chain wants to know just how different the present crop of transgenic grains really is.
The Mexican Senate has unanimously approved a bill calling for mandatory labeling of biotech foods. New European regulations have banned Canadian honey because it isn't certified transgenicfree. A petition by leading European winemakers requests a 10year moratorium on genetically modified vines. Knowing means testing every load, identity preservation and traceability from plate back to farm the very opposite of a bulk undifferentiated commodity system.
The attempt to have our regulatory system approve transgenic grains and then assume that consumers around the world will just buy it and eat as if nothing has changed is beginning to unravel. Starlink corn, the transgenic approved only for livestock, reverberates throughout the world commodity marketing system dramatic testimonial of how much would have to change to accommodate transgenic food.
This is the Achilles heal of transgenic modified grains. Can it change? The food sectors commitment to the bulk undifferentiated commodity market has deep roots and powerful economic underpinnings. By comparison the support for transgenic food is rhetorical and fading.
GREENPEACE PRAISES BAN ON GE CROPS
April 7, 2001
Greenpeace yesterday lauded the government's decision to stop the release of all genetically engineered crops into the environment and no longer allow any GE field trials in Thailand. With this decision, Thailand has taken the lead in Asia to protect its
environment, biodiversity and farmers from genetic pollution, Greenpeace said and urged all other Asean governments to follow the Thai example. The Agriculture Ministry has been instructed by the cabinet to halt all endorsements for GE field trials. All commercial growing of GE crops is also banned.
MONEY POURS IN FOR FARMER'S APPEAL; SPENT RETIREMENT FUNDS FIGHTING BIOTECH FIRM
April 7, 2001
The Edmonton Sun
Percy Schmeiser's hardluck story about spending his retirement funds battling St. Louis based Monsanto over the use of a herbicide resistent canola in his fields has, according to this story, sparked an outpouring of funds from supporters. The story says that people from all over the world are calling to lend support and to tell him they're sending him money, he said. A woman from Montana sent him $1,000 US. Another American sent $5,000. And Schmeiser says he has received money from as far away as Malaysia. Schmeiser was quoted as telling the Winnipeg Free Press that, "This isn't just a Percy Schmeiser fight anymore. It's a fight for farmers all over the world." He said with the help of his supporters he hopes to continue his fight.
B.C. MAKES MOVE ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS April 5, 2001
Times Colonist (Victoria)/CP
B.C. Attorney General Graeme Bowbrick was quoted as saying, "People have a fundamental right to know exactly what they are eating. This is all about the rights of consumers,'' as he introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Labelling Act.
The stories say that the act introduced Wednesday is an exposure bill designed to generate discussion and feedback from the industry and the public.
Bowbrick was cited as saying the bill will be given first reading, but won't be passed during the current legislative session. July 31 is the deadline for comments and suggestions on the government discussion paper on the issue.
B.C. is the first province in Canada and the first jurisdiction in North America to take steps towards mandatory labelling of genetically engineered food.
U.N. TASK FORCE BEGINS 5-DAY MEETING ON GM FOOD
March 25, 2001
The Associated Press
CHIBA, Japan, -- According to this story, a U.N. task force on standards for genetically modified (GM) foods on Sunday kicked off a five-day meeting of the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology here amid ongoing discord between the United States and the European Union (EU) over the issue.
The story notes that nongovernmental organizations opposing GM foods staged a protest around the venue, with members handing out leaflets to passersby. The task force is part of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a Rome-based U.N. organ dedicated to drawing up an international standard for the first time on the safety of GM foods. It has about 170 member states.
March 27, 2001
Eric Palmer, The Kansas City Star, Mo.
According to this story, Claude Corbin and his son Mitchell farm 2,000 acres of corn north of St. Joseph and even though they never planted one seed of the genetically altered StarLink corn, the havoc wreaked on corn markets after StarLink made its way into human food products has cost them dearly, according to a lawsuit filed by the Corbins and another Mound City, Mo., farmer.
The suit was cited as alleging that corn prices have been depressed and export markets have shriveled, costing corn farmers billions of dollars, because Aventis did not take the steps necessary to make sure its product did not contaminate human food corn.
Richard Wolfson, PhD
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