Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. February 17, 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.

2/16/01
A farming family's frustrations with genetically engineered soybeans
-------------------------------------------

(February 16, 2001 -- Cropchoice news) -- After a few seasons growing Roundup Ready soybeans, the Nelson family isn't impressed. But the fact that the bio-engineered seeds haven't increased their yields or decreased their use of pesticides is the least of the Nelsons' worries. Monsanto is suing them. The St. Louis-based biotechnology giant alleges that the family saved its transgenic seeds from one season and planted them the next, a violation of the company's patent.

Rodney, Roger and Greg Nelson farm more than 8,000 acres of soybeans, wheat and sugar beets near Amenia, ND.

"Our plea to you, Byron, is we as an individual farm, cannot afford to do battle against this multinational giant," wrote the Nelsons in a letter to U.S. Rep. Byron Dorgan about Monsanto's action against them. "We know that they have already assigned 6 attorneys to our case and we assure you from the bottom of our hearts, that we are not guilty of anything. We feel now we have no where to turn but to our government for help."

.....

The Feb 19 edition of Fortune magazine has a long and detailed article about the Starlink fiasco in the US. (Thanks to NLP Wessex for posting this email)

Below are some exerpts - full article at: "Reaping a Biotech Blunder"
http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Starlink-Biotech-Blunder.htm

Anybody who thinks choice can be maintained in the food chain on the GM issue is living in a dream world as these practicalities demonstrate. Plants don't read protocols on genetic segregation (just like the seed trade in fact).

You either go for a GM food system or you ban it altogether. There is no 'reasonable' compromise. The biotech industry knows this and is betting on 'creeping contamination' leading everyone else to throw in the towel.

"If we're lucky, maybe Starlink will also be a wake-up call, reminding us that tinkering with Mother Nature is risky business -and that it's not just white-coated lab technicians who must be careful. Solving the problem of hunger and malnutrition may ultimately depend not so much on science as on our faith in science and all its stewards. And if you can't trust a farmer, who can you trust?"

Fortune magazine, Feb 19 2001

.......

Toronto Star
Feb. 11, 2001

Taxpayers fund biotech food giant
CIDA aids project in China promoting Monsanto crops


Peter Gorrie
FEATURE WRITER

Canadian taxpayers spent more than $280,000 to directly promote the use of genetically modified crops created by multinational giant Monsanto Company, The Star has learned.

Over objections from some officials - including Canada's embassy in Beijing - the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) gave the money to a project in China aimed at encouraging farmers there to grow Monsanto's controversial genetically modified cotton and corn.

Ottawa supports biotechnology, seeing it as a source of jobs and profits in Canada, as well as a way to dramatically increase the world's food supply. Several federal departments have funded projects involving Monsanto and other biotech companies.

But critics say Canada should not back research into genetically modified food and, in particular, should not get involved with firms such as Monsanto.

``I'm appalled,'' Ann Clark, a plant researcher at the University of Guelph and an opponent of genetically modified food, said in an interview.

"Canada should be seen as a beacon for ecologically sound production methods,'' she said, calling the China project "wrongheaded.''

"It's absolutely shocking,'' said geneticist David Suzuki. "Why a huge multinational corporation needs a government subsidy is beyond me. And why CIDA should be promoting a young technology with such a lot of questions is doubly troubling.

"There should be . . . an investigation about CIDA and what its priorities are.''

A report by the Royal Society of Canada, released last week, lists potential dangers from genetically modified foods and points out serious flaws in Canada's regulation and testing of the products. It also complains that Ottawa is too close to the biotechnology industry, and in a conflict of interest as both its regulator and promoter. ...

It's not clear, the critics say, whether genetically modified foods - even those approved for human consumption - are safe. ``We've never eaten Bt before as a species,'' Clark said. "We're now being given the opportunity to serve as guinea pigs to test the effects, if any, of large-scale ingestion.''

And, despite claims to the contrary, Clark said, genetically modified foods lead to increased dependence on chemical pesticides, and raise the amount of such chemicals in the food.

As well, she said, while initial results may be spectacular, growing biotech crops can impoverish Third World farmers by forcing them to buy seed and chemicals each year.

Most farmers in developing countries keep seeds from one year's crop to grow the next year's, and share them with neighbours. But Monsanto - to ensure it profits from its invention - prohibits growers from saving seeds, and checks up on them, requiring them to show proof they've bought any seeds they're using.

"If the trend is not stopped, the patenting of transgenic plants . . . will soon lead to universal `bioserfdom,' in which farmers will lease their plants . . . from conglomerates such as Monsanto and pay royalties on seeds,'' says Ron Cummins, of a U.S. group called the Campaign for Food Safety.

Suzuki said his main concern is that, "there's no telling what the impact will be when these things (genetically modified plants) start being released in the wild.'' Genetically modified plants "are new species. We don't know what their impacts will be.

"Why at such an early stage are we so anxious to rush it into application? . . . Money is putting it into overdrive.''

....

U.S. STATES SEEK LAWS TO LIMIT NEW BIOTECH WHEAT
February 8, 2001
Reuters
Carey Gillam
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Top U.S. spring wheat states are, according to this story, considering legislation restricting genetically modified wheat production in order to protect farmers from losing export business to countries opposed to buying bioengineered food. The story explains that the proposed new laws, which were being debated this week in North Dakota and Montana, include calls for setting moratoriums on the planting of genetically modified (GM) wheat.

....

GENE TRANSPLANT TO CROPS WORRIES VATICAN
February 9, 2001
Times Colonist (Victoria) A10

LYONS, France -- The transplant of human genes into crops is, according to this story, the latest scientific issue to trigger debate in the Roman Catholic Church, it emerged at World Life Sciences Forum being held in Lyons.

In London, Ontario, Canadian researchers have been conducting trials with tobacco plants that contain a human gene, interleukin 10, in order to mass-produce the protein which Dr Anthony Jevnikar and his colleagues believe could help treat bowel disorders. Within the Catholic Church, this kind of research has triggered a debate about whether such a crop marked the creation of a "chimeric new being'', said one of the delegates, Prof. Alain Lejeune, of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
.....

GENETICALLY MODIFIED WEAKLINGS
February 8, 2001
The Economist
<http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=498471>

The debate about the long-term ecological risks associated with genetically modified (GM) crops, according to this story, took an unusual turn this week because amid the acrimony, somebody actually published some data. The story says that Mick Crawley and his colleagues at Imperial College London have written up in Nature the results of their decade-long investigation into the competitive abilities of a number of strains of GM plant. They found that, far from marching like weeds over the countryside around their planting sites, the crops in question tended to curl up and die in the face of competition from wild species. The team's study began in 1990. At that time only four crop species-rape, maize, sugar beet and potatoes-had been subjected to genetic modification with a view to commercial planting. The rape, maize and beet had been modified with genes intended to promote immunity to herbicides. The potatoes were modified to resist the attentions of plant-eating insects.

The tests showed that, when untended by people, all four species of crop did badly. Of the 48 plots planted, 47 went extinct within four years. The exception, a plot of potatoes, lasted the whole decade. But, more significantly, the genetically modified varieties tended to do worse than those produced by traditional methods of plant breeding. The surviving potatoes, for example, were all of the traditional sort.

....

RALPH NADER DOESN'T LIKE THE TASTE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION Feb. 16/01
CP Wire
By Dennis Bueckert
OTTAWA - American consumer advocate Ralph Nader, in Canada to attend a conference on genetically engineered foods, was cited as saying the biotech boom has been a bust for consumers and the only winners are the big corporations, adding, "Where are the demonstrated benefits here? They (biotech companies) can't document increased yield per acre, they can't document improved nutrition, they can't document improved taste.'' Nader, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. presidency last fall, was further cited as saying technology is moving faster than the science needed to understand it, and research is being cornered by secretive corporate interests, adding, "These corporations are planning the food future for the world day after day, mostly in secret, in conjunction with their government supplicants, many of whom they fund in campaigns.'' Farmers who use genetically altered seeds become dependent on the companies which hold the patents on those seeds, Nader charged, adding, "If anything . . . genetically engineered food will induce an enormous dependency on a few giant corporations by millions of farmers all over the world. That dependency can be colloquially described as farmers putting all their seeds in a very few distant corporate baskets.''

....

The Globe and Mail
Feb. 13, 2001

Forget about labels, just eat what Ottawa puts in front of you

The government doesn't want to feed you information about genetically modified food, says lawyer CLAYTON RUBY. A court case tomorrow could change that

CLAYTON RUBY

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Last week the highly regarded Royal Society of Canada issued a report that raises serious concerns about the regulations and safety of genetically modified foods. At the federal government's request, these respected scientists had investigated the messy details of exactly how genetically modified (GM) food gets the okay in Canada; their revealing and critical analysis was titled, "Elements of Precaution." They confirmed that Canadians have been treated as human guinea pigs. Worse, the Canadian International Development Agency has been subsidizing the St. Louis-based giant multinational, Monsanto, to the tune of more than $280,000 to grow genetically modified cotton and corn in China.

...

ROCK SHRUGS OFF GM FOOD WARNING
February 7, 2001
The Daily News (Halifax)
Expert advice sought by the federal Health Department on how it monitors genetically modified food, according to this story, seems to have become unpopular as soon as the Chretien government found it was actually critical. One could ask why any organization would commission an independent scientific report -- in this case a panel of the Royal Society of Canada -- and then object to its methods and findings. But this is a government department, highly visible to taxpayers and headed by the politically sensitive Allan Rock.

The story cites the science academy as saying the screening system could fail to protect the public against "serious harm to human health, animal health or the environment,'' in a 265-page report on higher standards of assessing "transgenic products.'' The Health Department says the scientists didn't do the right research.

A news briefing was told the 14-person scientific panel did not understand federal policies as now applied (which is quite possible if it wasn't told during the study) but more oddly the panel was accused of looking at the wrong documents on the Health Department Web site. Spokeswoman Karen Dodds pointed out, helpfully, some of these documents are aimed at the general public and not experts. From this we can conclude the public is mostly too dumb to understand the subject the way experts would, and that the experts themselves are too dumb to realize the Web texts are general information. This leads to the next question, which is why is the Web site not providing all the information anyone might need, from scientist to casual surfer? Panel co-chairman Conrad Brunk was cited as saying it looked at all information publicly available but found some key principles of the regulatory process are ambiguous. Coupled with a warning of potential conflict of interest -- the government promotes biotechnology while acting to protect the public -- the panel's criticism seems to have stung Mr. Rock where it hurts. For example, his department is aware of the secretive nature of biotech development, involving as it does billions of dollars in future patents and sales, but insists it can "regulate'' it. Perhaps that's why Canada has become the world's third-largest producer of "frankenfood'' crops, with federal approval, while they remains hugely controversial in many other countries. Genetic manipulation may be simply wonderful but warnings can't be shrugged off as they were in Ottawa this week.


__________________________________
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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