Articles on Genetically Modified Food received from Richard Wolfson, Ph.D. November 28, 2000.

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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 500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON  Canada  K1N 6N2.

Corn Growers Tell EPA: Don't Rush to Judgment on StarLink Corn

November 27, 2000

American Corn Growers Take Measured, Long-term Stand on GMO Corn

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) President Keith Dittrich is urging EPA to suspend the temporary approval of StarLink corn for human consumption until production issues are addressed. Mr. Dittrich's comments are contained in ACGA's written comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Public Meeting scheduled for November 28 on issues surrounding the contamination of unapproved corn into the food system.

The recall of the StarLink corn is wreaking havoc in corn growing communities, where billions of bushels of corn could be contaminated. No one knows the extent of the contamination.

In the statement to EPA, Dittrich underscored the role farmers play in finding solutions to the biggest scandal to reach the farm gate in this century. He said, "America's cornfields have become the laboratories for scientists who are studying genetically modified organism (GMO) corn. America's corn producers, many with advanced degrees in agronomy, genetics and related academic disciplines, are leading scientific experts on issues being discussed by this panel. Therefore, ACGA believes that their views need to be at the forefront of any decisions on StarLink and GMO production in general."

The ACGA contends that EPA ignored the natural consequences of approving StarLink corn only for animal consumption, yet unapproved for people. When farmers grow traditional corn next to genetically modified corn, pollen drifts and gene pools contaminate each other.

Mr. Dittrich also said, "As more and more countries are requiring the labeling of grain shipments to distinguish between GMO and non-GMO, segregation will need to occur anyway. So let's address this major problem now without sugarcoating it (through temporary approval)."

Biotech companies and some corn commodity groups are urging EPA to temporarily approve StarLink for human consumption to stave off large industry losses from the recall of the rogue seed variety. Yet farmers are losing the most. Since the scandal arose, corn prices have shrunk and foreign buyers are shying from purchasing U.S. corn feared tainted with StarLink seeds.

Dittrich urged other corn and grain groups to take a neutral position on GMO production as a service to their producer members.

"Our organization has taken a measured approach on issues related to GMO corn production," said Dittrich. "We promote neither GMO corn production nor Non-GMO production. We grow for the customer. Some other commodity groups have been promoting biotech corn blindly, without looking at the legal risks and production costs in a growing system where GMO and Non-GMO crops are raised side by side."

"We've been more neutral," Dittrich said. "We ask farmers to take a good look at all the possibilities. StarLink reminds us that buyers want separate products identified and preserved from the start -- from when the bags of seed corn are delivered to farmers."

"When StarLink was approved for animal use but not human consumption, EPA apparently never thought of the problems associated with growing unapproved for human consumption corn next to clean corn," said Dittrich.

ACGA's comments to the EPA also stated: "StarLink is having and will continue to have profound economic and scientific consequences for production agriculture. Future determinations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not only set the stage for the regulatory predicament of StarLink, but of all genetically modified crops. EPA's actions touch all of us. Therefore, we encourage you to give this matter your full consideration based on facts and not on political expediency."

The comments went on to say: "The confusion for the customer stems more from how the non-approved variety was approved for planting and how it became contaminated to begin with. These questions will not be addressed by temporary approval. Either the entire food industry, including farmers, addresses the questions of segregation now or we risk the contamination of the entire food system in the future. Farmers, grain handlers, grain processors and grain shippers must all recognize that we have a problem with segregation either at the elevator gate or on the farm. Giving temporary approval at this stage will only whitewash the segregation problem, not make it disappear."

The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) was founded in 1987 by corn producers as an alternative to existing commodity groups. Since then, the organization has grown into one of the country's most respected voices exclusively for corn growers. The focus is on the farmer. The ACGA Board Directors are corn growers. Its producer members approve all policy decisions. Associate members provide support. ACGA is active in 28 states.

For more information on ACGA's position on new production technologies, including biotech corn, contact the ACGA website at acga@acga.org.

SOURCE American Corn Growers Association

CONTACT: Keith Dittrich, 202-835-0330, or Lynden L. Peter, 202-320-7456,
both of American Corn Growers Association, acga@acga.org

......

NOTHING TRIVIAL IN THREAT TO THE ENVIRONMENT
November 27, 2000
The Gazette (Montreal)
B2
Lucy Sharratt  of the Sierra Club of Canada writes that concern over the potential pitfalls of genetic engineering is no trivial matter and that the environmental and health risks, and even ethical questions, of genetic engineering are more than what Joe Schwarcz calls "today's bogeyman'' and much more than what his comparison to the debate over pasteurization would imply (Column, Nov. 12, "The Frankenfuror''). Far from having been "addressed and either found to be unrealistic or solvable,'' concerns over genetic pollution, harm to beneficial insect populations and the potential creation of new food allergies, among others, remain and, says Sharratt, are amplified each time there is new evidence of unexpected side effects. Here again we are faced with denials and silence rather than further investigation.

Sharratt  says that environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club of Canada confront political, economic and social decisions that put all of us and our planet at risk. There are some very serious questions about genetic engineering that our government refuses to ask and others that it will not answer.

Sharratt says Mr. Schwarcz is flippant when he writes that he "might have to eat crow some time.'' Unfortunately, by the time this happens it will be too late for him and us. Changes to our environment will be irreversible; genetically engineered organisms are living organisms and, once released, cannot be controlled or recalled.


......

Monday November 27, 3:29 pm Eastern Time

Aventis sale of bio-crop unit could hurt farmers - lawmaker

WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and supporter of biotech crops, urged top Clinton Administration officials on Monday to ensure that farmers, grain elevators, foodmakers and others are fairly compensated for losses from StarLink bio-corn contamination.

Harkin said he was especially concerned that Aventis SA's (NYSE:AVE - news) plan to sell the company's agricultural biotech unit could complicate matters for those seeking compensation from Aventis over the next few months.


.....
Monday November 27, 3:35 pm Eastern Time

INTERVIEW-More US firms seen adopting bio-food labels

By Julie Vorman

WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Regardless of how the StarLink bio-corn safety debate plays out, more U.S. foodmakers will likely begin voluntarily labeling products with gene-spliced ingredients to give consumers more information, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman told Reuters on Monday.

Labeling is one of the key issues in the battle between U.S. environmentalists and agribusiness over regulation of bio-foods.

Many European and Asian nations already require labels on foods containing genetically modified corn, soybeans, tomatoes and other crops.

.......

27 November 2000

NATURAL LAW PARTY ASKS THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AT PUBLIC HEARING ON CHARDON LL MAIZE TO HALT INTRODUCTION OF GM FOOD TECHNOLOGY AND SUPPORT NATURAL, HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES

The Natural Law Party of Great Britain used the Public Hearing on 3 November on the proposed addition of Chardon LL Maize (a GM variety developed by Aventis) to the National Seed List to serve notice on the Government that it will not be able to plead "ignorance" in defence of future claims of personal injury or environmental damage arising from the introduction of the new technology.

Placing a massive quantity of evidence (76 references altogether) before the hearing, Richard Johnson, Chairman of the Natural Law Party, said: "The extensive body of research clearly shows that there are significant risks for health and the environment from the introduction of this new technology. The controversy surrounding the use of recombinant DNA in the food supply is centred on the breaking of biological boundaries between unrelated species. Through this Public Hearing and other inquiries, scientists and concerned members of the public have placed all the evidence on public record and the Government cannot later say they were unaware of the potential problems."

No risk is acceptable with food supply

Mr Johnson said that pressing ahead with Chardon LL and other GM food technology is absolutely wrong. "The Government's insistence on doing so can only be explained by an overriding pressure from the biotechnology industry, putting money before life," he said. "This is especially evident in the light of the fact that there are readily available and perfectly adequate natural means to produce healthy, nutritious food for everyone.

........

Thanks to Bradford Duplisea <Bradford.Duplisea@videotron.ca> for posting this:

Dozens claim GM corn made them ill (CBC)

CBC -  WebPosted Tue Nov 28  2000

WASHINGTON - Forty-four Americans claime that they became ill after eating foods containing StarLink bio-corn. However, investigators may never be able to determine whether the genetically modified corn was to blame, according to U.S. officials.

Scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are looking into claims that Aventis SA's StarLink corn might have caused rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, itching and life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

The Environmental Protection Agency asked the CDC to assess whether Starlink, modified to repel destructive pests, presents a health risk to humans. Officials with the centres presented summaries of the reported illnesses to a panel of scientists in Washington Tuesday.

StarLink was approved for use only as animal feed two years ago. There were concerns that its special protein might cause allergic reactions in humans.

Traces of the corn turned up in taco shells in September. That led to the recall of more than 300 kinds of foods and widespread genetic testing by food manufacturers.

The EPA is now considering whether to temporarily approve the genetically modified corn as an ingredient in food for people.


........

Tuesday November 28 7:17 PM ET
44 Americans Claim Starlink Corn Made Them Ill

By Julie Vorman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Forty-four Americans have complained that they became ill after eating foods containing StarLink bio-corn, but investigators may never be able to pinpoint whether the genetically modified maize was to blame, federal officials said on Tuesday.

Scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) said they were investigating the claims that Aventis SA's (AVEP.PA) (NYSE:AVE - news) gene-spliced StarLink corn might have caused rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, itching and life-threatening
anaphylactic shock.

.......

Thanks to Jim McNulty for posting the following

12:18 PM - Nov 28, 2000 EST
StarLink corn impacts continue like ripples in a pond
by Roger Bernard

By Pro Farmer Editors

StarLinkTM corn continues to make impacts on agriculture as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meets today to gather input on how to handle the StarLink corn that has already found its way into the food chain. Aventis CropScience has requested a temporary approval for the corn to be in the nation's food supply to allow it to work through the system.

But the news won't and hasn't stopped there. Monsanto Co. is the latest firm to "tweak" some of their plans for seed varieties that have been genetically enhanced. The firm announced Monday it would alter planting/sale plans for a couple different genetically enhanced hybrid seed corn varieties. The move delays the release commercially of one variety until 2002 and restricts the areas where another can be planted.

........

http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/001129/n29109760.html


Wednesday November 29, 3:24 pm Eastern Time

USDA says reviewing Aventis conduct in bio-corn flap

By Julie Vorman

WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department is broadly reviewing the conduct of Aventis SA (NYSE:AVE - news), the maker of StarLink gene-spliced corn that contaminated the nation's corn supply, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said on Wednesday.

Some environmental and anti-biotech groups have urged the government to fine Aventis or penalize the company in some way for failing to follow rules banning StarLink from human food.

.......

Aventis is urging the US government to approve StarLink temporarily until it can make its way through the food system. Here is one story on this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/29/business/29FOOD.html

New York Times

November 29, 2000

Plan for Use of Bioengineered Corn in Food Is Disputed

By ANDREW POLLACK

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 - Hoping to avoid further product recalls linked to a bioengineered corn, representatives of food, agriculture and biotechnology industries urged the Environmental Protection Agency today to approve the corn temporarily for human consumption. But critics said such a move would bail out the corn's developer and the food companies at consumers' expense.

"It is not E.P.A.'s obligation to clean up the mess," said Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Turning on a dime to assist industry would undermine confidence both here and abroad in the E.P.A. as a regulator."

 The clash of opinions occurred at a public meeting of a scientific advisory panel to the E.P.A. Until now the agency has approved the corn, StarLink, for animal feed but not for human consumption because of concerns that the protein in the corn could cause allergies.

__________________________________
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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