Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. April 5, 2001.




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"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.

Tuesday April 3, 6:54 am Eastern Time
Aventis to sell off rather than float CropSciences

PARIS, April 3 (Reuters) - Franco-German life sciences company  Aventis has decided to sell off its CropSciences division and  not seek a stock market listing, staff-management committee  sources said on Tuesday.

Aventis management has sent its CropSciences sale proposal to  three U.S.firms - Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow, and to two German firms - Bayer and BASF,  they added.


Cloned calves die at California schools

The Associated Press

CHICO, Calif. (April 2, 2001 3:23 p.m. EDT) - Two of three recently cloned heifers at the California State University, Chico, farm have died and the third is sick and under close watch, officials said.

One of the three calves died at the farm last week. Another died over the weekend at the University of California, Davis, which has also participated in the cloning experiment.

The three heifers were born March 9 to two surrogate cows. A total of 28 cloned embryos were implanted into 14 surrogate Hereford cows. The three calves were the only ones to survive.

Charles Crabb, dean of the university's college of agriculture, said the cows probably died from a bacteria buildup in their stomachs.

"It is not uncommon for cloned animals to have problems with their immune systems," Crabb said.

The two animals that have died came from the same surrogate mother. The third animal is feverish and has been moved to UC Davis, Crabb said.

The animals were part of a cloning experiment done by Cyagra, a Kansas-based biotechnology company. The cows were at Chico State to see how they would perform in a typical farm setting.


New Book: "Redesigning Life?"

Now available from Zed Books in London; distributed by Palgrave/St. Martin's in New York:

Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering Edited by Brian Tokar (A Canadian edition from McGill-Queens University Press and an Australian edition from Scribe Publications will be available shortly.)

Genetic engineering, animal cloning and new reproductive technologies are being promoted as the keys to a brighter future. Genetic engineers promise a more productive agriculture, wondrous medical miracles and solutions to our most pressing environmental problems. But growing numbers of farmers, scientists and concerned citizens disagree, citing new hazards to our health and the environment, along with troubling ethical questions.

This book offers the most comprehensive examination to date of the hidden hazards of the new genetic technologies, and the emergence of worldwide resistance. Twenty-six internationally respected critics, offer their analysis of the issues, their social and ethical implications, and the stories that lie behind the headlines that have brought genetic engineering to the forefront of public controversy.

Researchers trying to clone animals have reported that many of their attempts have ended in premature deaths and birth defects.


USDA Verifies New GMO QuickCheck Bt9 Test Kit for StarLink and Preliminary Results for the First Quarter Exceed the Company's Expectations

April 5, 2001

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 4, 2001 via NewsEdge Corporation -

Strategic Diagnostics Inc. (Nasdaq: SDIX) today announced that its new test kit, the GMO QuickCheck(TM) Bt9 Test Kit has been evaluated by the USDA and they have verified the performance of the test to detect the presence of one kernel of StarLink(TM) corn in 800 kernels (0.125%).


Laboratory tests belie promises of some 'GMO-free' food labels

StarLink began turning up in 10% of corn at processors

Japanese demonstrate against StarLink, a brand of genetically modified corn, in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo late last year.

By Patricia Callahan and Scott Kilman


A year ago, Yves Veggie Cuisine placed a new label on its products: "non-GMO." That six-letter term is supposed to signify that a product isn't made from crops that have been genetically modified.

IT'S AN IMPORTANT designation for many natural-foods consumers, such as the customers of Yves, a Canadian maker of vegetarian dishes sold throughout the U.S.

If it didn't exclude genetically modified organisms, founder Yves Potvin worries, Yves might "lose a certain segment of our consumers."

But are Yves ingredients truly unmodified? A recent sample of Yves Canadian Veggie Bacon, purchased from a Chicago grocery store, had a significant concentration of genetically modified soybeans. A laboratory test conducted for The Wall Street Journal showed that about 40 percent of the soybean DNA detected in the sample came from genetically modified plants.

Informed of this result, Yves halted production of its Veggie Bacon line. It also notified its retailers that the Veggie Bacon boxes on their shelves contain a genetically modified ingredient. Yves, which has annual sales of $60 million, says it pays its suppliers extra for ingredients that are screened - last year, the additional cost was $500,000 - and that
genetically modified soybeans ended up in the product as the result of a supplier mix-up. An Yves spokesman said the amount found in the Journal's test is "impossible," and that the company is conducting its own laboratory analysis of Veggie Bacon. Yves isn't recalling packages already on the shelves because "there are no safety or health issues" associated with genetically modified soybeans, he said.


The non-GMO label - the initials stand for "genetically modified organisms" - is one of the hottest trends in food marketing. Virtually unknown in the U.S. as recently as three years ago, the label now pops up in nearly every aisle of the supermarket, on hundreds of products ranging from pasta, produce and breakfast cereal to frozen entrees, condiments and beverages. The designation is so new that most marketing firms don't track it as a separate category. But industry executives believe the non-GMO segment is growing about as fast as that of organic products - foods produced without synthetic chemicals - a $7.8 billion market that is increasing at eight times the rate of the packaged food business as a whole.


Thailand bans the release of genetically engineered crops into the environment

Bangkok/London, 6th April 2001 - Greenpeace today  applauded the Thai Government's decision to stop the release of all Genetically Engineered (GE) crops into the environment and no longer allow any GE field trials in Thailand. With this decision Thailand takes the lead in Asia to protect its environment, biodiversity and farmers from genetic pollution.  The cabinet of the Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra decided to instruct the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to halt all approvals for GE field trials (1). The decision should also mark the end of ongoing field trials on GE cotton and GE corn, conducted by agribusiness giant Monsanto, the second largest seed provider in Thailand (2). Thailand has already banned all commercial  growing of GE crops on its territory (3).

information: In Thailand: Auaiporn Suthonthanyakorn, Mob: +6618207006; Isabelle Meister, Mob: +41794184455;, Teresa Merilainen, Tel: +31205236637


March 19, 2001

FDA To Test for Biotech Allergy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration will soon begin blood-testing people who say they may have been sickened by eating a variety of genetically engineered corn.

The test, which FDA recently developed, is designed to indicate whether someone is allergic to a special protein in the corn, known as StarLink, said Monica Revelle.


Thanks to for posting the following


Court Rules Farmer Must Pay Monsanto for Crops Contaminated by Pollen Drift

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, March 30, 2001 - A Canadian court ruled yesterday that farmer Percy Schmeiser must pay Monsanto after his fields were found to be contaminated by the company's genetically engineered canola. Pollen from neighboring fields was the source of the contamination. The award amounts to over $15,000 plus damages, which could amount to another $75,000, and came after Monsanto company investigators trespassed on Schmeiser's land and found the company's genetically engineered canola growing in his field. The court found that because Monsanto owns patent rights on the genes used in the altered canola, the farmer was liable for growing the crop, even though he did not intentionally plant the engineered seed.

"It will take totally all of my wife's and myself's retirement funds that we've worked for all our life," said a disappointed Percy Schmeiser, 70. "I've lost 50 years of work because of a company's genetically altered seed getting into my canola, destroying what I've worked for, destroying my property and getting sued on top of it."

"It's outrageous that farmers are forced to pay for genetic pollution from unwanted crops," said Charles Margulis, a Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Specialist. "The same chemical companies that polluted our food with pesticides are now polluting our food with their new genetic technology."

In the U.S., farmers have become increasingly concerned about genetic pollution since environmentalists revealed that StarLink, an engineered variety not approved for human food, has contaminated the food and seed supply. Earlier this month USDA revealed that it would spend as much as $20 million to buy StarLink-contaminated seed. Other engineered seed contamination has been detected in cotton, soy and other crops, yet farmers have no protection from this genetic seed pollution. If the Schmeiser case sets a precedent, any farmer whose crop is contaminated via tainted seed, pollen drift, or other unavoidable environmental pollution will be forced to pay biotech companies for unwanted genetic pollution.

"It's as if a pesticide drifted into your field and destroyed your crop, and instead of getting compensation, you have to pay the company for using its chemical," added Margulis.

According to The Washington Post, in response to the Schmeiser decision, the U.S. National Farmers Union said: "We're extremely concerned by what liabilities may unfold for the farmer, particularly with cross-pollination of genetically modified plants."

Trish Jordan, Monsanto's spokeswoman in Winnipeg was cited as admitting the company's reputation has been damaged by the case. "For Monsanto, it is a bit of a no-win situation. It's pretty easy to paint this as the multinational beating up on the poor little farmer," she was quoted as saying.


Farm News from Cropchoice An alternative news service for American farmers


Canadian professor speaks out on Percy Schmeiser decision

(March 30, 2001 --Cropchoice opinion) -- E. Ann Clark, a professor of plant agriculture at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, offers her perspective on the Canadian federal court ruling against Percy Schmeiser.


To all the farmers and farm organizations that applauded the prosecution of Schmeiser two years ago, and have since sat back and watched him swinging in the wind waiting for judgment:

a.  he was not found guilty of brown bagging or improperly buying or stealing Monsanto seed - indeed, those highly publicized allegations were dropped at the actual hearing stage due to a complete lack of evidence,

b.  he was found guilty of having Monsanto genetics on his land,

c.  it's doubtful whether there's a farm anywhere in western Canada that does not have Monsanto Roundup Ready canola seed in its soil,

d.  if you have it, you are to call Monsanto and they are to come out and deal with it.  How, pray tell, are they going to do this - by plucking out the offending plants one by one - for up to 10 years after each contamination event occurred (canola seed can remain dormant under western Canadian conditions including no-till) - during which time you are disallowed from growing canola because if you do, and volunteer Monsanto canola emerges, sets seed, and shatters, it all starts over again?

e.  is Monsanto going to come out to your fields not just in the spring prior to planting, but throughout the season, because canola can germinate anytime? Are they going to absorb all costs of these service calls, or will they charge you for it?

f.  if you have it, and you call Monsanto to come and clean out your Monsanto genetics, what is to stop them from prosecuting you, as they did Schmeiser?

g.  if you do not join in an appeal of this decision - and ensure that the judge that hears the appeal has at least a rudimentary understanding of plant reproductive biology, and has heard of StarLink corn, and that a scientifically sound and defensible decision is made - then you deserve what will most surely happen to you and your neighbors.

To put this into a perspective that everyone can visualize, imagine that the government were to come up with a new law, stating a) that all male calves shall remain intact (not castrated), and b) that all fences must come down.

Imagine further that two-thirds of these calves carry a deleterious trait that reduces the valuation of their progeny. Consider the chaos that would result in the beef and dairy industries.

This is an apt analogy for what government has done by prematurely authorizing the release of transgenic, open-pollinated crops - like corn and canola. Pollen moves, as do bulls. There is no way to build a fence high enough to keep pollen - whether from StarLink corn or from herbicide tolerant-canola - from moving into your land from neighboring fields. Pollen carries transgenic as well as natural traits, and two-thirds of the canola sown in Canada last year was herbicide-tolerant. Pollen has always moved, but for the first time in history, pollen carries deleterious traits - both because of the traits themselves but also, because the pollen carries proprietary genes.

Wake up folks, and see the writing on the wall, as revealed by this remarkably incomprehensible judgment.

E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor, Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont. Canada  N1G 2W1

phone: 519 824-4120 x2508 FAX:   519 763-8933


NGOs refuse to participate in government consultations on genetic engineering

April 3, 2001

OTTAWA, April 2 /CNW/ via NewsEdge Corporation -

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.


Wednesday April 4 12:15 AM ET
Global Green Groups Urge Bush to Halt Bio-Corn Exports

 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 100 consumer and green groups around the world have urged President Bush (news - web sites) to halt exports of U.S. corn and food aid that may be contaminated with an unapproved bioengineered variety of corn.


Tuesday, April 3, 2001

National Post; A7;
'Wheat Producers want modified seed blocked'; by Les Perreaux.
The Canadian Wheat Board is asking the federal government to block Monsanto and other companies from selling genetically altered wheat seed amid fears the grain will destroy Canada's most important export markets.


Dorset Echo

Farmer moves site for GM crop trials
by Joe Taylor

Thursday 05 April 2001

BINCOMBE farmer Charles Foot today announced that he will move the site for genetically-modified crop trials two miles away from schools.

The announcement came after outrage from parents and environmental groups that the trials were due to take place close to classrooms of St Andrew's School, Preston, and Westfield Technology College, Littlemoor.


Comment: Genetically Modified Food: Unsafe Until Further Notice
New York Times Syndicate
Martha R. Herbert, MD

April 05, 2001

Bioengineering companies, the federal government and even the American Medical Association (AMA) are asking consumers to take a leap of faith with respect to foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

While defects in an experimental car would become quickly apparent, it will take far more exhaustive genetic and environmental testing before we know whether or not a particular genetically altered corn oil or potato is safe for human consumption.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, recently announced plans to approve new  genetically altered foods: All that is required is for manufacturers to notify the agency 120  days before putting the product on the market and promise that it is "substantially equivalent'' to a conventional counterpart. And don't look for labeling on genetically altered  foods and ingredients - the FDA has ruled that labeling is purely voluntary.

After years of evidence pointing to the risks of GMO ingredients, the FDA appears to have no interest in testing to protect consumers from known and potential risks.

"Substantial equivalence,'' an unsubstantiated hypothesis, asserts that plants whose fundamental genetic structure has been permanently altered are no different from naturally occurring varieties. In making this claim, manufacturers only have to perform cursory tests for  safety, nutrition, flavor and texture.

Although scientists are well aware that genetic engineering can produce unexpected, often highly undesirable, effects, there is no current testing or health monitoring to detect these health and environmental curve-balls.

In 1989, for example, tryptophan, an essential amino acid sold in the U.S. as a nutritional supplement, was manufactured in a new way from a genetically altered bacteria. Over time, thousands of people who took tryptophan from this batch became ill, 1,500 were permanently disabled, and 37 died.

Subsequently, very sensitive chemical testing showed that although the tryptophan was 99.6 percent pure, and thus "substantially equivalent,'' the genetically engineered bacteria had unexpectedly introduced a tiny amount (0.01 percent) of an extremely toxic  contaminant. If the FDA had insisted on more thorough testing, using animal or human subjects, this product would never have been allowed on the market.

The headlong race by the biotech industry to genetically modify hundreds of commercially valuable plants is worrisome enough, but the recent "clean bill of health'' for these products by the AMA is inexcusable. In sharp contrast, the British Medical Association called for a moratorium on planting GMO crops in the U.K. several years ago.

Even in this country, the National Environmental Health Association passed a resolution calling for clear labeling of GMO foods. Overseas, the 15-member European Union is about  to impose "the toughest legislation in the world'' on genetically engineered organisms.

The recent declaration by the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs that foods with altered genes are completely safe runs totally counter to the rising tide of world medical opinion.

The AMA's recommendation that "there is no scientific justification now for special labeling ... of such foods'' was the product of an uncritical examination of the few studies published during  a period when there has been no requirement and little funding for independent evaluation  of genetically engineered food.

In fact, the FDA generally accepts confidential corporate testing results that are unavailable for outside safety verification. While scientists question how these in-house tests are done,  the AMA goes right along with the FDA, ignoring the matter entirely. If the AMA were truly  serious about upholding "sound science'' to protect public health, it would acknowledge that  adequate scientific research has not been done, and that there is no basis for assuring food  safety.

Finally, the AMA has forgotten the physician's basic credo - "first do no harm'' - by timidly  suggesting that the common use of antibiotic resistance marker genes to implant foreign  genetic material into cells should ``be avoided, if possible.''

The British Medical Association is very clear on this point: These "marker genes'' are capable of entering disease-causing bacteria, making them, too, resistant to antibiotics and thus harder to control. Still, the AMA reaches the astonishing conclusion that there is "no scientific justification for special labeling'' of GMO foods. It is unreasonable to ask the American public to risk so much - with no choice in the matter - when fundamental questions are still unanswered. Until thorough and independent scientific research provides genuine assurances about the long-range safety for health and the environment of these unprecedented products, caution is the only rational course.

(Martha Herbert is a pediatric neurologist and researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and a board member of the Council for Responsible Genetics.)

(The Hearst Web site is at
c.2001 Hearst Newspapers

Richard Wolfson, PhD
GE News.
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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