Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. - May and June 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.

Here are the May 2001 and June 2001 Biotech news columns from Alive magazine. It took me a little while to get the May one, so I am sending out both together


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

Biotech News
by Richard Wolfson, Ph.D.

Aventis Lawsuits Mounting

Aventis, the manufacturer of StarLink corn, is being slapped with a series of class-action lawsuits by farmers across the USA. Farmers are seeking compensation for financial damage from cross pollination and commingling of the unapproved corn with regular varieties. StarLink, which was approved for animal use only, found its way into the human food supply. Food industry consultants say that StarLink will cost the food industry billions of dollars and has thrown the future of genetically modified foods into doubt.

Nematodes Infest Biotech Cotton

Research recently published in the Journal of Cotton Science shows that biotech cotton is more susceptible to the root-knot nematode, a widespread and serious insect pest of cotton. In the past, cotton was bred to be resistant to the pest.  However, biotech varieties show increased infestation and nematode damage. This finding highlights the potential for weakened traits in genetic varieties due to the unpredictable side-effects of genetic manipulation.

Cotton Quality Declining

US textile manufacturers have linked decline in cotton quality over the past years with the widespread use of genetically modified cotton farms. The  reduction in cotton quality occurred exactly in step with the increased use of genetically engineered cotton.

Brazil leader in "Natural" Corn

International buyers are flocking to buy non-genetically engineered corn from Brazil, the leading supplier of GE-free corn. Spain recently purchased 150,000 tonnes.

Superweeds Spreading

Genetically modified "super-weeds" have invaded Canadian farms. Herbicide resistant biotech canola plants  have escaped and cross-bred with each other to form plants stronger than their parents. These plants, which can't be killed by most pesticides, are sprouting up in wheat fields and other areas where farmers don't want them. The super-weed canola is especially bad in the Prairies. Farmers are having to resort to more powerful pesticides -  the very chemicals the engineered plants were designed to render obsolete.

Biotech Rice Fraud

Genetically engineered "golden rice" that produced vitamin A was promoted by the biotech industry as a solution to blindness in the third world. However, it has now been shown that the rice could only generate a small fraction of the vitamin A initially promised, making the initial claims and benefits unrealizable.

Brazilian Farmers Storm Monsanto

More than a thousand poor Brazilian farmers stormed a biotech plant in Brazil owned by U.S. life sciences giant Monsanto, threatening to camp out indefinitely to protest genetically modified (GM) food. A spokesman for the farmers stated "These [biotech] seeds trick farmers and create dependency on seeds produced by a big multinational."

United Nations Recommends Caution

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has expressed concern over genetically modified food. FAO is warning scientists of their "moral responsibility" to supply objective, peer-reviewed data and not to rush products to market on the basis of "insufficiently tested results."

Top Research Centre Admits GM Failure

Scientists in UK's top biotech crop research institute, the John Innes Centre, have admitted fundamental problems with GE crops. The latest report of the institute warns that biotech crops can become unstable after they reproduce, resulting in weakened crop varieties. The scientists were also worried that the CaMV gene, which is derived from the cauliflower mosaic virus and is inserted into many GE crops, could interfere with the functioning of the plants.


Reprinted with permission from the June 2001 issue of Alive, Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition

Biotech News
by Richard Wolfson, PhD

Taxpayers Funding Biotech

Canadian taxpayers spent more than $280,000 promoting Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) crops in China. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) gave the money to encourage farmers in China to grow Monsanto's controversial biotech cotton and corn. Critics in Canada say Canada should not be bankrolling the biotech companies in this way.

"It's absolutely shocking," said geneticist Dr. 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."

Even officials at Canada's embassy in Beijing objected to the funding.

Biotech Weaklings

Researchers at Imperial College in London, England found that biotech crops are much less hardy than traditional varieties. The team studied biotech canola, corn, sugar beet and potatoes over 10 years. They showed that, when untended by people, all four of the crops tended to curl up and die. Of the 48 plots planted with these crops, 47 went extinct within four years. The study was published in Nature.

Australian Honey Contaminated

Beekeepers in the Australian state of Tasmania face potential ruin amid fears that Europe will not buy their honey because their bees were contaminated with genetically engineered canola pollen. The biotech companies Monsanto and Aventis convinced the beekeepers to place their hives close to GE-canola crops to facilitate pollination  and increase canola production.

Farmers Wary of Biotech Wheat

While gene-altered wheat is still years away from market, farmers are already worried about losing markets. American growers have asked Monsanto, the developer of the crop, to create a special distribution system to make sure biotech wheat does not contaminate other crops.

Japanese flour millers have already stated that genetically modified wheat in USA could lead Japan to stop buying American wheat.

StarLink Contamination Continues

At the end of 2000, the US corn supply became contaminated with StarLink, a biotech corn variety not approved for human use because of allergenic potential. StarLink is genetically engineered with a foreign protein, Cry9C, that  kills insect pests.

Recently, the Cry9C protein was found in the USA in seed for this year's crop. Farmers are very concerned because foreign countries will not buy the contaminated corn. US corn prices are plummeting as their export market has fallen. International buyers are turning to China, Argentina, Brazil and Europe .

Pig Organ Transplants Dangerous

Pigs are being genetically engineered with human genes so that the animals produce organs that can be used for human transplants. Animal to human transplants have been touted as the solution to the worldwide shortage of donor organs. However, the whole initiative has been thrown into doubt because of the danger of infection with animal viruses.

Tobacco with Human Genes

Researchers in London, Ontario have inserted a human gene into tobacco plants. The scientists are trying to turn the tobacco plant into a drug factory that produces pharmaceuticals that can be marketed for huge profits.

The Roman Catholic Church spoke out against research that mixed genes between humans and plants, creating a "chimeric new being.''

Philippines Outlaws Biotech

Because of the enormous opposition in her country, President Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines said the Philippines would no longer allow research on genetically altered crops.

She states: "There is great objection to this from civil society. So the Philippines will not be initiating or pushing for this experimentation."

Her statement means a 360-degree turn from the policy first adopted by then president Corazon Aquino.

Indonesian Ministries Clash

Indonesia's Ministry of Environment joined non-governmental organizations in opposing transgenic crops because of environmental and human health concerns. The environment ministry is at odds with the Ministry of Agriculture.



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