Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. March 22, 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.

THE LANCET 357 ,2001, March 17

US newspaper charges research centre with misconduct

A Seattle newspaper has charged that top researchers at the prestigious Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, including a Nobel Prize winner, failed to inform patients participating in bone marrow transplant trials that an alarming number of patients who had tried the experimental treatment had died and that other less dangerous treatments were available.

The Seattle Times also alleges that three researchers involved in the study, E Donnall Thomas, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in medicine for his pioneering research in bone-marrow transplantation, John Hansen, who has been the centre's clinical director, and another lead investigator involved in the trial, Paul Martin, failed to inform the patients that they and the centre had significant financial ties to a biotechnology company, Genetic Systems Corporation (Redmond, WA, USA), which stood to benefit from the trial results. ...

The paper reports that of the 82 patients who participated in the trial 80 have died "at least 20 from graft failures attributable to the  treatment". The paper says the consent forms "underplayed the risk of  graft failure" and indicated that in the case of failure a second  transplant could be done, not mentioning that 95% of such repeat  procedures failed. The five-part investigative report and extensive  supporting documentation can be read on ...


Here is another biotech disaster:

Parkinson's miracle cure turns into a catastrophe

Sarah Boseley, health editor
Tuesday March 13, 2001
The Guardian

Hopes of an early cure for Parkinson's disease by the implantation of foetal cells into the brain have been dashed by the devastating results of the first full trial of the technique, which found that a number of the patients were left with tragic side effects which cannot be undone.

The results of the trial will dismay Parkinson's sufferers around the world who had hoped the controversial treatment, which has been available in experimental form since the 1980s, might eventually spell an end to the crippling disease. The American scientists who conducted the research found the therapy did not benefit patients over the age of 60 at all.

Some of the younger patients did improve, but for 15% of those who received the implants, the outcome was worse than the disease. After a year of apparently doing well, these patients began to writhe, jerk their heads uncontrollably and throw their arms about involuntarily as the foetal brain cells that were intended to produce dopamine, the chemical that is depleted in Parkinson's sufferers, went into overdrive.

The cells appear to have grown too well and are producing excessive amounts of the chemical. The scientists have no way bringing the dopamine levels back down. Paul Greene, a neurologist from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, who was one of the researchers, said the results were "absolutely devastating" for the five patients who cannot control their movements.

"They chew constantly, their fingers go up and down, their wrists flex and distend," he told the New York Times. "It was tragic, catastrophic. And we can't selectively turn it off." One man now has to be fed through a tube because he can no longer eat while another periodically becomes unintelligible during the day when the side effects, which in his case come and go, set in....

The shocking results of the study are a setback for the scientists who hope that research into stem cells - the basic cells formed by the splitting of a fertilised human egg - may lead to cures for degenerative brain diseases.


Biotech Corn Tainted Vast Amounts
Company's Report Expands Estimate

Washington Post 18mar01

More than 430 million bushels of corn in storage nationwide contain some of a genetically engineered variety that prompted a broad recall of corn products last fall, the company that developed the corn will report today. The announcement greatly increases estimates of the amount of corn that was inadvertently mixed with the engineered variety, known as StarLink, which is not approved for human consumption.

Most of the commingled corn is from the 1999 crop and is in grain elevators, according to John Wichtrich, general manager for Aventis CropScience, which developed the corn. The affected corn -- which is more than 4 percent of U.S. production from 1999 -- will have to be rerouted to animal feed and ethanol production.


Sunday March 18, 6:58 pm Eastern Time

FACTBOX - StarLink tainted corn from 1999, 2000 crops

WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) - Aventis SA (NYSE:AVEP - news) estimated on Sunday that more than 430 million bushels of the U.S. corn supply was tainted with small amounts of its StarLink bio-corn.


20 Mar 2001
Knight Ridder/Tribune
Biotech Firm Executive Says Genetically Engineered Corn Is Here to Stay Mar. 19

A top Aventis CropScience executive said Sunday that the food supply will never be rid of the new strain of corn that the company genetically engineered at Research Triangle Park. The executive, John Wichtrich, called for a change in federal regulations to allow some level of the engineered corn, known as StarLink, in human food. The product is now approved only for animal feed and industrial products such as ethanol. But the environmental watchdog who first discovered the new corn in food objected sharply. "Aventis broke the promise of biotechnology," said Larry Bohlen of Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C. "They were supposed to improve the quality of our food, not cause so many problems and introduce so much risk." Wichtrich, general manager of Aventis in RTP, apologized for the debacle Sunday in a speech to the North American Millers Association in San Antonio. Wichtrich said that 437 million additional bushels of StarLink have been found in storage, which is much more than previously thought. About 50 million bushels of StarLink corn were grown under license during 2000, and Starlink was inadvertently mixed into another 20 million bushels.



US science panel says more data needed on bio-crop safety

USA: March 19, 2001

WASHINGTON - An independent science advisory panel on Thursday told the Environmental Protection Agency more studies are needed to pinpoint how long bioengineered cotton and corn residue lingers in the soil and whether it  poses any environmental risk.

The panel of two dozen biologists and entomologists issued a 78-page report addressing various technical issues about Bt crops for the EPA. ... The science panel, led by Stephen Roberts of the University of Florida, said more data was needed to determine how much of the unique Cry proteins from Bt  crops remain in the soil after harvest, and whether they are harmful. "These studies are important to assess long-term environmental effects of Bt-containing crops," the report said.


Monsanto's Genetically Modified Potatoes Find Slim Market, Despite Repelling Bugs

Monsanto Co. is quietly mothballing its six-year-old  genetically modified potato, the first bioengineered crop it launched.

Monsanto, a St. Louis agricultural biotechnology and  herbicide company 85%-owned by Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J.,  confirmed Tuesday that it will stop selling genetically modified seed to  U.S. and Canadian potato farmers after this spring.

Launched in 1995, Monsanto's NewLeaf potato is  equipped with a gene from a microorganism to make a toxin that repels a  bug called the Colorado potato beetle. Monsanto advertised the potato to  farmers as a way to greatly reduce their spending on pesticides, but  NewLeaf never captured more than 5% of the potato-seed market.

Many potato farmers, hard pressed by a price-depressing glut of spuds, haven't been willing to pay the premium Monsanto  charges for its genetically modified seed. Meanwhile,  some food companies have shied away  from using the genetically modified potato to avoid getting  wrapped up in the debate over the safety of bioengineered food.

Last year, for example, fast-food giant McDonald's  Corp. told its french-fry suppliers to stop using the potato from Monsanto, the  only U.S. company to launch a genetically modified version of the tuber. As a result, J.R. Simplot Co., a major maker of french fries, instructed its farmers to stop growing NewLeaf potatoes.

At its peak in 1999, NewLeaf potatoes were planted on  about 55,000 acres in North America. NewLeaf acreage shrank by roughly half last year. Monsanto's decision to add a new genetically engineered feature to its potato -- resistance to the Leaf Roll virus -- did little to perk up sales.

Monsanto spokeswoman Lori Fisher said the company decided several months ago to shelve the NewLeaf potat0.


On the horizon: two alternatives to transgenic corn

(March 22, 2001 -- Cropchoice news)-- American corn farmers who want to reduce their pesticide use and break away from transgenic crops may have a couple of options -- a natural compound that kills earworms and a Peruvian germ plasm that deters European corn borer.

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service in Tifton, GA., have bred sweet corn whose stalks produce maysin, a natural compound that can kill earworms. Though commercialization of crops with maysin is a few years off, the hybrid could allow farmers to  spray fewer pesticides. Earworms annually cause $100 million in yield losses.

Forced-feeding trials found that a maysin concentration of less than one third of 1 percent of the silk's total fresh weight was enough to kill 50 percent of earworms that digested it, which translated to little earworm damage in corn with the compound. Maysin remains in  corn silks, where earworms begin feeding.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, scientists have discovered a Peruvian germ plasm that naturally  deters European corn borer. Were plant breeders to incorporate it into a viable corn hybrid, farmers could have a variety resistant to the borer, which damages $1 billion worth of U.S. corn annually, without relying on pesticides or transgenic varieties. Growers wouldn't have to deal with technology fees (as long as varieties with the resistant germ plasm are public),  non-Bt corn buffers or elevators rejecting their corn because foreign markets don't want it.

The resistant germ plasm -- GEMS-0001 -- originated in northern Peru. Agricultural Research  Service scientist Craig Abel told Farm Industry News that indigenous farmers probably selected corn with the germ plasm because of its resistance to the sugarcane borer, which feeds on both corn and sugarcane

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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