Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. February 23, 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.

Biotech News
by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Reprinted with permission from the February 2001 issue of Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition.

Contaminated Corn - Canada's Food Supply at Risk

StarLink is a genetically engineered corn only approved for animal feed. The corn was engineered with Cry9C, a protein toxic to insects, so that insect pests who eat the plant die.

What happens when humans eat the corn? Initial research indicates that StarLink would not easily break down in the human gut, and might cause allergic or anaphylactic reactions. Therefore, the corn was only approved for animal feed until further research could be done.

However, in September 2000,  the unapproved corn was detected in taco shells distributed throughout the USA by Kraft (a subsidiary of Philip Morris) under the name Taco Bell. Alarm bells went off across the USA.

Trying to contain the disaster, Kraft recalled millions of packages of its taco shells from across the  United States. Next, the US's largest manufacturer of tortilla products, Safeway (Mission brand), had to recall its products, that showed traces of StarLink.

As evidence of the contamination spread, nearly 300 food products in USA were recalled, including more than 70 types of taco chips, over 80 taco shells, and nearly 100 foods served in restaurants and large food chains nationwide.

Plants Shut down

ConAgra Foods Inc., one of the US's biggest food markers, shut down its corn milling operation in Kansas, due to contamination. Kellogg's temporarily shut down its manufacturing plant in Memphis, Tennessee.

Efforts to trace the unapproved corn showed that millions of bushels of StarLink had been delivered to more than 350 grain elevators across the USA. About 9 million bushels of StarLink, or about 10 percent of the season's crop, were lost in the system and could not be accounted for.

Aventis, the manufacturer of StarLink, was blamed for not advising farmers to segregate StarLink, which was only approved for animal feed, from the other corn.  While StarLink represented only 1 percent of Iowa's corn acreage, because the corn was not segregated, about half of the 2 billion bushels of corn in Iowa was contaminated.

Japanese importers found traces of StarLink in a cargo of U.S. corn, and rejected the 55,000-ton cargo. Korea recalled 14,528 kilograms of tortillas contaminated by StarLink. The US was losing overseas markets.

Some US feed operations, including Tyson Foods, the world's largest poultry producer, refused StarLink.

Pressure for Approval

Mexico and South America were targeted as export markets for the corn. In the meantime, Aventis pressured the US Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve StarLink for national marketing, at least temporarily. The FDA would not comply. Research in Holland had just come out, showing that rats fed StarLink began producing antibodies, indicating possible internal damage and that more research was needed.

Aventis estimated its cost for cleaning up the mess in the USA and recalling StarLink corn at many hundreds of millions of dollars. They forecast it would be below $1 billion.

Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute at the Consumers Union of the USA, said: "The regulatory system is so fragmented and full of holes and inconsistencies that it's a stretch to call it a system. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors to suggest there is real review when there isn't."

Where was Canada while the crisis was going on? American manufacturers confirmed that products containing StarLink corn were shipped to Canadian distributors. Some Canadian outlets were apparently told by US manufacturers that they were sent contaminated products. However, it is unclear which, if any, products were recalled, as any recall was voluntary.

In the US, the FDA released a list of the 300 contaminated products, and consumers were able to return products for full refund. In Canada, no such lists are available and consumers have been pretty much in the dark.

However, we heard that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sent in 50 foods from Canadian stores for testing to see if they contain StarLink. One might wonder why CFIA regulators were about two months behind the USA in responding to this serious contamination incident, especially when it was heavily covered by the US press.

More info on the StarLink fiasco in the USA has been posted at


February 15, 2001
Beverly Cheng

Two major British food retailers will be the first to offer meat products from animals fed with non-genetically modified (GM) feed, according to a National Meat Association news release.

In a poll of more than 1,000 British consumers conducted by one of the retail chains, about two-thirds said they would prefer products from animals fed on a non-GM diet. The environmental activist group Greenpeace lauded the two food retailers, saying that their decision could have a profound impact on the international markets of soy and corn, two of the main feed crops using GM seed.

"This marks the beginning of the end for genetically engineered ingredients in the food chain in Europe," Greenpeace campaigner Lorenz Petersen told Reuters.


Chemical Formed in Irradiated Food Causes Mutations, Recent Study Reveals

Respected German Organization, Federal Research Center for Nutrition in Karlsruhe, Germany, Reports on Comprehensive Testing

By Mark Worth, Senior Researcher, Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program

In a rare opportunity to speak publicly about food irradiation before a captive audience of government officials and food industry executives, Public Citizen this week released the world's first English translation of a recent German study revealing that a chemical formed in irradiated food can cause genetic mutations.

The study confirmed what safe-food advocates and many pioneering researchers have known for more than 30 years: Exposing food to ionizing radiation can lead to the formation of bizarre new chemicals called "unique radiolytic products" that can cause serious health problems. One such chemical, known as 2-DCB, caused "significant DNA damage" in the colons of rats that ate the substance. The chemical - - which, ironically, is a well-known "marker" for determining whether food has been irradiated - - has never been found naturally in any food on Earth.

The study was conducted in 1998 under the auspices of two prominent pro-irradiation organizations. It was performed at one of the most prestigious food irradiation labs in the world, the Federal Research Center for Nutrition in Karlsruhe, Germany.


"A real mistake in biotechnology could set us back decades in Europe," Richardson said.


New GM crop directive requires "traceability" - EU

USA: February 19, 2001

WASHINGTON - New European Union rules for the approval of genetically modified crops would require US industry to closely track the new varieties as they move through commercial channels, EU aides said on Friday.

John Richardson, deputy chief of mission at the European Commission's Washington office, said the "traceability" requirement would allow Brussels to collect data on the potential health effects of the crops, which are still viewed by many European consumers with deep suspicion. ...

The EU desperately wants to avoid a replay of its "mad cow" beef crisis with genetically modified crops.

"A real mistake in biotechnology could set us back decades in Europe," Richardson said.


Contact: Lydia Zepeda
       University of Wisconsin-Madison

Labeling GM food may clear economic jam for farmers

SAN FRANCISCO - As the rest of the world continues to reject genetically modified (GM) foods, American farmers might look to government-mandated labels as their ticket back into the global market.

Lydia Zepeda, an associate professor of consumer science for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, draws that conclusion in an analysis of the current GM-food market. Zepeda is part of a forum examining the public sector's role in biotechnology at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting Sunday, Feb.18, in San Francisco.


Tokyo govt planning new labels to identify GM food

Yomiuri Shimbun

The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to call on manufacturers to add new labels to the genetically modified food to be sold in Tokyo from fiscal 2001, government sources said.

Under the revised Japan Agricultural Standards Law, if such foods as tofu, miso and corn are genetically modified, manufacturers and wholesalers will be obliged to identify such products from April.


Thursday February 22 1:20 PM ET

Majority of Americans Favor Biofood Labels--Survey

By Julie Vorman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half of American consumers surveyed said genetically modified foods should be routinely labeled as such, even though the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) believes special labels are not needed, according to a food industry group.

The survey of 1,000 adults was prepared by the International Food Information Council Foundation, a group funded by food and beverage companies, which generally oppose labels on gene-spliced foods as expensive and raising unnecessary concerns in the minds of shoppers.

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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