Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. December 13, 2000.

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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.

http://www.agweb.com/news/news.cfm?id=16482&service=27

10:50 AM - Dec 11, 2000 EST 12/11

StarLink "possibility" stalls trainload sale off the farm

Selected by Pro Farmer Editors

St. Louis Post-Dispatch // By Jerri Stroud December 10, 2000

A week ago, Steve and Bernie Gordon thought they had nailed down a deal to sell a 50-car trainload of corn from their central Illinois farm at a premium price.

Then they got a letter from Garst Seed Co.

Now they may not be able to sell the corn for anything but a steep discount.  "I've lost $40,000," said Bernie Gordon, 46, who has been farming with his  brother for 22 years.

The letter, dated Nov. 29, informed the Gordons that some StarLink bioengineered corn had been mixed into bags of seed the Gordons purchased and planted last spring on five of 13 farms they cultivate near Rantoul, in the heart of the Corn Belt, about 180 miles northeast of St. Louis.

Not only was the corn seed the Gordons bought from Garst not supposed to contain StarLink -- a type of genetically engineered corn not approved for human consumption -- it was not supposed to contain any genetically engineered material.

The letter has put the deal for the 150,000-bushel trainload of corn on hold, and at least two nearby elevators say they won't buy the corn if it has StarLink in it.

The Gordons had decided this year to plant only conventional corn - - avoiding genetically engineered corn throughout the 2,200 acres they farm.

Why? "I was afraid that something like this would happen," said Bernie Gordon, referring to a controversy that has prompted many buyers to refuse shipments of StarLink corn.

Hundreds of food products ranging from taco shells to snack foods have been recalled in recent months after traces of the unapproved StarLink have been found in the food supply.

The controversy has depressed the value of corn nationwide and forced farmers to seek testing to prove that their corn is StarLink- free.  StarLink, developed by Aventis Crop Science and licensed to Garst and other  seed companies, has been approved only for animal feed and industrial uses. Aventis genetically modified StarLink to produce its own pesticide, a protein known as Cry9C. The protein has been shown to cause allergic reactions in some people. Food processors and some foreign buyers are rejecting corn that contains the  protein.

The Gordons planted the Garst seed on just 100 acres. But because they didn't know it contained StarLink, they made no effort to segregate the corn from the rest of their crop. The corn was mixed with corn grown from other seed when it went through the Gordons' grain-drying system.

"I didn't worry about it," said Bernie Gordon.  Now, the Gordons are faced with the prospect of testing each of the 14 steel bins where the corn is stored. The bins -- each as big as a small house -- are scattered among 13 farms within a 20-mile drive of Rantoul.  Even a trace of StarLink can kill a sale to local elevators. The tests being run can detect one kernel of Starlink in every 400 kernels -- about a quarter of a percent.

.....

 Thanks to ngin@icsenglish.com for posting this:

---
12th December, 2000.

SOYA IMPORTER ANNOUNCES ITS INTENTION TO GO GE-FREE IN FRANCE - UK URGED TO
FOLLOW SUIT.


Central Soya, a subsidiary of Eridania-Beghin-Say, and one of the largest commodity processors and food producers in the world have confirmed to Greenpeace that they will convert their soybean facility in Bordeaux to exclusively GM-free production.

For more information:  Greenpeace France, Tel: +33 60757 31 60;

......

Tuesday December 12, 4:36 pm Eastern Time

US FDA chief--Jury still out on StarLink corn safety

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday the ``jury is still very much out'' on whether there was a risk to humans from a type of biotech corn that triggered the recall of more than 300 foods.

Jane Henney, FDA commissioner, said there were still unanswered questions about StarLink, a corn variety engineered to repel pests that was not approved for use in human food.

.......

Here is the testimony of Dr. John Hagelin, who was also leader of the Natural Law Party of the USA in past presidential election, at the recent hearings of the FDA on StarLink Corn

STATEMENT FOR THE FIFRA SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL OPEN MEETING ON STARLINK CORN
Arlington, Virginia
November 28, 2000

JOHN HAGELIN, Ph.D.
Director, Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy

I speak to you as a scientist who is striving to ensure that  our best scientific knowledge be applied for the solution-- and prevention--of society's problems. I am a nuclear physicist  who has published extensively in superstring theory and,  during the last three elections, I have been the Presidential candidate of the Natural Law Party.

I want to address an issue much deeper than whether the CRY9C protein in StarLink corn is likely to be allergenic. I want to address the assumptions that underlie the entire agricultural bioengineering enterprise. I am deeply concerned that life scientists are implementing bioengineering technologies without adequately understanding the lessons we have learned from the physical sciences. One of the key revelations of modern physics is that phenomena unfold in a far less linear and predictable fashion than eighteenth and nineteenth century thinkers assumed. Today we know that there are inherent limitations on our ability to make precise predictions about the behavior of a system, especially for microscopic systems and nonlinear systems of  great complexity.

Numerous eminent molecular biologists recognize that DNA is a complex nonlinear system and that splicing foreign genes into  the DNA of a food-yielding organism can cause unpredictable side effects that could harm the health of the human consumer. Yet, the genetic engineering of our food--and the widespread presence of genetically altered foods in American supermarkets --is based on the premise that the effects of gene-splicing are  so predictable that all bioengineered foods can be presumed safe unless proven otherwise. This refusal to recognize the risks of unintended and essentially unpredictable negative  side effects is just plain bad science. It is astounding that so many biologists are attempting to impose a paradigm of  precise, linear, billiard-ball predictably onto the behavior of DNA, when physics has long since dislodged such a paradigm  from the microscopic realm and molecular biological research  increasingly confirms its inapplicability to the dynamics of genomes.

Moreover, the premise of predictability is not just scientifically unsound; it is morally irresponsible. The safety of our food is being put at risk in a cavalier, if  not callous, fashion, not only in disregard of scientific  knowledge, but in disregard of recent technological history. Here, too, lessons should have been learned from the physical  sciences. Time and again, the overhasty application of nuclear  technologies led to numerous health and environmental disasters. For example, in the early days of nuclear technology, the rush  to commercialize led to the sale of radium tipped wands designed to remove facial hair. Nine months later the cancers came. Similarly, the failure to comprehend the full range of risks and to proceed with prudence has led to many disasters in the nuclear power industry.

In the case of genetic engineering, even greater caution is called for: a nuclear disaster only lasts 10,000 years, whereas gene pollution is forever--self-perpetuating and irreversible.

The irresponsible behavior that permitted the marketing of  bioengineered foods has not been limited to the scientific community, but includes the executive branch of the federal  government. The FDA's internal records reveal that its own  experts clearly recognized the potential for gene-splicing  to induce production of unpredicted toxins and carcinogens in the resultant food. These same records reveal that these warnings were covered up by FDA political appointees operating  under a White House directive to promote the biotech industry. It is unconscionable that the FDA claimed itself unaware of any information showing that bioengineered foods differ from  others, when its own files are filled with such information from its scientific staff. And it is unconscionable that it permits such novel foods to be marketed based on the claim  they are recognized as safe by an overwhelming consensus  within the scientific community, when it knows such a  consensus does not exist.

The StarLink fiasco further demonstrates the shoddiness of  the government's regulation, since the system failed to keep even an unapproved bioengineered crop out of our food. Indeed, the contamination was discovered not by the government, but  by public interest groups. The FDA had no clue and had taken  no measures to monitor. This incident also demonstrates how difficult it will be to remove a bioengineered product from our food supply if it is eventually found to be harmful and, therefore, how important it is to prevent the introduction of new ones and to phase out those currently in use.

It is high time that science and the truth be respected, and that the false pretenses enabling the commercialization of  bioengineered foods be acknowledged and abolished. I call  upon the members of this panel to uphold sound science so that you can hold your own heads up as the facts about the  hazards of bioengineered food become increasingly well known. I call upon you not only to resist the pressures to approve  the pesticidal protein in StarLink Corn; I call upon you to honestly acknowledge the inherent risks of genetic engineering  and to affirm that, due to these risks, neither StarLink nor any other bioengineered food can be presumed safe at the  present stage of our knowledge.

......

Thanks to Luke Anderson for posting this:

Argentine GM policy endangers investment - Monsanto

Reuters - ARGENTINA: December 13, 2000

BUENOS AIRES - Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co may close some operations in Argentina if the government does not loosen restrictions on genetically modified (GM) food production, a company official said.

Argentina's policy of authorizing new GM products only if they have been approved in European Union endangers Monsanto's projects including an $8 million cotton seed processing plant joint venture, said Miguel Potocnik, Monsanto's agriculture director for southern Latin America. "This investment is in danger and if (the cotton seeds) don't get approved it could be yet another plant that closes in Argentina," Potocnik told Reuters in a recent interview.

U.S.-based Monsanto produces herbicides such as Roundup, seeds and related genetic trait products to help farmers grow crops with higher yields while controlling weeds, insects and diseases. The company's "Roundup Ready" cotton has not been authorized by Argentina's Agriculture Ministry, which is trying to balance local interests with the increasing hostility abroad toward GM products.

Organizations like Greenpeace have rallied public sentiment, especially in Europe, against what they derisively describe as "Frankenstein foods" on the grounds that not enough is known about gene-altered crops to deem them safe. Argentina is the world's second-largest producer of GM crops but concern has grown about their viability as its No. 1 trading partner Brazil has lately stiffened its ban on GM crops and their importation.

"The risk that we're running is that as a country we could be left behind in  a technology that we had the opportunity to latch onto first, and now it seems like we want to give it up," Potocnik said. About 90 percent of Argentina's 10 million-hectare soybean crop sprouts from Monsanto's seeds. An Agriculture Ministry spokesman told Reuters recently that Argentina's GM policy had allowed it to gain the upper hand over the United States in exporting corn to Spain.

__________________________________
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign
for Mandatory labelling and long-term
testing of genetically engineered food
__________________________________
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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