1.Iceland: Resistance Rises Against GM Imports
2.Australia: All supermarkets to match GM-free stand
3.Canada: Farmers want PEI to stay away from GMOs
4.USA: Presidential Candidates Support Labeling 5.The Philippines: Bill seeking GMO ban filed
EXTRACT: In late November, after reviewing the latest data about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), also known as 'biotech foods', all leading democratic presidential candidates agreed to fast track the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Non-GMO brands are expected to benefit. (item 4)
1.ICELAND: Resistance Rises Against GM Imports
By Lowana Veal IPS, Jan 23 2008
REYKJAVIK, Jan 23 (IPS) - Icelanders are beginning to protest more forcefully against import of genetically modified food, leading the government to tighten regulations.
'We are the only European country that does not require food to be labelled if it contains genetically modified organisms,' Johannes Gunnarsson, chair of the Consumers' Association in Iceland told IPS. 'And of all European countries, it is Iceland that buys most from the U.S. -- products such as breakfast cereals and baby food.
'Consumers must have the right to choose, and to do so they must have the right information,' he says. 'If there are no rules regarding which products contain GM foodstuffs, the consumer has no choice. We have talked to the last three environment ministers about the situation but, although they are sympathetic, nothing is done.' Until now.
Iceland passed a law on marketing and general release of genetically modified organisms in 1996, and since then several regulations have been introduced on that basis. The measures followed a European Directive in 1990. But no steps were then taken in line with the more recent 2001 Directive.
Sigridur Audur Arnardottir, lawyer for the Environment Minister, says new regulations based on the new Directive have finally been written. 'This is being sent out for comments and should be ready for implementation in February,' she said.
'The new regulation will update the previous ones but will be based on the Cartagena Protocol on biological safety,' Sigurdur Thrainsson from the ministry said. 'It will thus correspond to the 2001 Directive.'
Another regulation, he said, will focus on a related regulation from 2003 that seeks to implement the Cartagena Protocol. 'The two regulations will come out about the same time.'
The Cartagena Protocol aims to protect biological diversity from potential risks of trans-boundary movement of genetically modified organisms -- or living modified organisms (LMO) as they are called in the Protocol.
'Iceland has signed but not yet ratified the Cartagena Protocol, but intends to ratify it in the near future,' said Thrainsson.
Early last year, European consumers voiced concern that food produced from animals fed with GM foodstuffs was not so labelled. Two European regulations have been written on this. But Helga Palsdottir from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, who wrote the regulation that is currently being reviewed, says that regulations on traceability and labelling have not been translated into Icelandic.
'If it is genetically modified, it must be labelled,' says Gunnarson. 'Most animal feed in Iceland comes from the USA, where there are no regulations on GM labelling.'
GM food is not the only issue. A company ORF has been developing growth factors from transgenic barley for use in cancer and stem cell research. These are greenhouse-grown, but two proteins have been grown experimentally outdoors in Gunnarsholt, South Iceland. One is for the ORF's own use, while the other is for industrial purposes.
Barley is the only cereal crop grown in Iceland. 'But there is no danger of cross-fertilisation between experimental barley and cultivated barley or related grasses,' says ORF co-founder Bjorn Larus Orvar.
Gunnar A. Gunnarson from Tun, an organic certification organisation, is not so sure. 'Where is the proof that no cross-fertilisation can exist,' he says. 'It cannot be excluded that wild or domestic animals will not break into the enclosure and thus carry fragments of transgenic material away with them.'
In the United States, he said, 'a number of major companies that are working on genetic engineering for pharmaceutical purposes use plants like tobacco, which are never used for food or animal feed, for genetic modification, to avoid possible contamination.'
ORF leases its land from the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), which also has its headquarters in Gunnarsholt, and cultivates the tall Deschampsia beringensis (Bering's tufted grass) and Festuca rubra (Arctic fescue) nearby for re-vegetation purposes.
Is there a risk of cross-pollination between the transgenic barley and the grasses? 'Not a chance,' says Magnus Johannson from SCS. 'Pollen from barley in Iceland and other northern climes only lives for 24 hours. Iceland is a very safe place for such experimentation.'
He emphasises that ORF only rents land from them -- cultivation of transgenic barley has nothing to do with the SCS. (END/2008)
2.All supermarkets to match Foodland's GM-free stand
Gene Ethics News Media Release - January 25 2008
Independent South Australian supermarket chain Foodland has joined Coles to ensure that their home brand products are free of Genetically Manipulated (GM) soy, corn, canola or cottonseed. Both supermarkets are responding to strong customer preferences for GM-free.
'We congratulate both chains on their first steps toward making their shops totally GM-free,' says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.
'The next step for Foodland is to make its many NSW and NT supermarkets GM-free too!
'And both supermarkets need a process for weeding out GM contaminated foods throughout their stores.
'We call on Woolworths, Aldi and IGA to join the GM-free trend in their stores too.
'We are not surprised that Foodland's shopper feedback supports their GM-free stance as over 90% of Coles customers also want GM-free.
'Everyone wants to eat healthy, safe and nutritious foods but scientific evidence shows that some GM foods fail these tests,' Mr Phelps says.
'Food Standards Australia NZ does not even consider the results of animal studies, yet there is growing evidence that the health of laboratory animals and their pups are harmed by GM foods.
'GM crops and foods will damage human health, the environment and the economy.
'We have asked all Australian Health Ministers, who will meet next week, to heed the public declaration of support for GM-free foods and farms by Foodland, Coles and hundreds of other Australian food businesses.
'They should also begin the process of fulfilling the Federal government promise to review Food Standard 1.5.2 and require the full labelling of all foods made using Genetic Manipulation technologies and processes,' Mr Phelps concludes.
More comment: 03 9347 4500/ 03 9889 1717 (H) ................................
FOODLAND REJECTS GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROP FOODS - 01/24/2008 January, 2008
Independent supermarket chain Foodland SA has rejected the use of genetically modified (GM) food in its Foodland range of products.
And it has called for better labelling of branded and fresh products to ensure consumers can choose whether or not to buy other goods containing GM foods.
Foodland SA's Chief Executive Officer, Mr Russell Markham, said the decision was made after feedback from customers.
'Our customers have overwhelmingly indicated that they do not want GM ingredients in our Foodland products,' he said.
'None of our Foodland range currently contains GM ingredients and we feel it is important to assure our customers that all our foods will remain GM free in the future.
'Customers should have the right to choose what foods they buy and feed their families and Foodland believes it is important that branded and fresh products made from GM foods are clearly labelled to enable this choice to be made.
'This will require changes to the existing labelling laws, which are inadequate, especially for goods made from overseas sourced ingredients.'
Mr Markham said the labelling issue was particularly important given moves by some State governments to lift bans on the commercial growing of GM foods.
'If Governments are prepared to allow GM foods to be grown commercially, they must give the customer the right to decide whether or not to consume them,' he said.
'It is not up to any Government to dictate what people eat. The final decisions must be left to the customer but the customer has to know what they are buying.
'This means having clear and unambiguous labelling laws and these laws need to be in place before any decision is made to lift bans on commercial growing.
'Any Government not prepared to do this is effectively treating consumers with contempt and will suffer as a result.'
Mr Markham said Foodland currently had 160 Foodland branded products, ranging from Dairy to Frozen and Grocery items. More than half of these are manufactured in South Australia.
Foodland's stance follows decisions by Australia's largest food company, Goodman Fielder and Australia's largest lamb exporter, Tatiara Meats to exclude GM products.
Foodland has 109 stores in South Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales.
Further Information: Russell Markham
Chief Executive Foodland Supermarkets Ph: 08 - 8351 9233
3.Canada: Farmers and environmentalists want PEI to stay away from GMO crops
The Canadian Press, 28 January 2008
CHARLOTTETOWN - P.E.I.[Prince Edward Island]. Agriculture Minister Neil LeClair says given a number of other farm crises his department hasn't had much time to look into the issue of planting genetically modified crops.
LeClair says they've been busy trying to sort out problems with the hog and beef industry and now intend to revisit the GMO issue.
Thousands of hectares of modified corn and sugarbeets will be planted on PEI this spring but many farmers and environmentalists want the Island to remain GMO free.
The previous government decided to leave it up to growers.
National Farmers Union district director Danny Hendricken says modified crops can play havoc with other plants and crops in the immediate area through cross pollination.
He says P.E.I. should not be a place to experiment.
4.USA: Candidates Support Expected to Boost Non-GMO Brands
Business Wire, 23 January 2008
LOS ANGELES -- According to leading health management resource, the Institute for Responsible Technology www.responsibletechnology.org consumers have no idea they are consuming flawed, genetically modified foods, and that is unfair. In late November, after reviewing the latest data about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), also known as 'biotech foods', all leading democratic presidential candidates agreed to fast track the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Non-GMO brands are expected to benefit.
'Now consumers will have the information they need to make non-GMO buying choices,' explains Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute and Director of the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America. 'We believe that we can change consumer buying habits if we reach consumers directly at point-of-purchase with a non-GMO brand shopping guide.' The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, launched late last year, plans to provide convenient purse-sized non-GMO brand buying guides in-store, to nonprofit groups and online. In addition to product tips, the guide lists key company phone numbers consumers can call to request they switch back to non-GMO ingredients. 'American consumers are an important part of the solution,' says Smith.
Candace Pert, PhD, author and former Chief of the Section, National Institutes of Health says, 'I applaud the Campaign's efforts to inform American consumers about healthier non-GMO brand choices, and I am heartened to hear the candidates are taking the labeling of ëbiotech foods' seriously. Because of the mounting evidence against GMOs, I consistently recommend a non-GMO diet.'
Smith, the world's best-selling author on the health risks of GMOs, says, 'A writer for a leading food magazine recently asked the question, ëA gene's a gene. What could go wrong?' The answer is: Plenty. In fact, the process of inserting a foreign gene into a plant cell and cloning that cell into a GM crop produces hundreds or thousands of mutations throughout the DNA. Natural plant genes may be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds can change their function. This type of collateral damage is why GM soy has less protein, an unexpected new allergen, and up to seven times higher levels of a known soy allergen.' According to Smith, this GM soy example is only one of thousands of possible biotech food flaws that negatively affect consumer health today. To learn about GMOs go to www.responsibletechnology.org.
The Institute for Responsible Technology serves as the premier meeting ground for the leaders of America's non-GMO community. Since its founding in 2003, it has sponsored groundbreaking research, fought for public policies that support GMO eradication, safety and testing, and created unparalleled resources so staff, boards, and consumers of every age can improve their health management.
The Institute for Responsible Technology fulfills its mission by:
*Serving as the voice of non-GMO education to the media, trade organizations, government, business, consumers and international bodies.
*Convening opportunities for non-GMO leaders to work together on key issues.
*Promoting policies that enable grassroots community members to engage with public officials on a nonpartisan basis.
*Supporting the development and dissemination of strategies to strengthen non-GMO volunteering, voting, giving, and other forms of citizen engagement.
http://www.worldhealthnet.tv/video/jeff-smith-the-effects-of- genetically-modified-foods (Due to its length, this URL may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser's address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)
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5.The Philippines: Bill seeking GMO ban in RP filed
The Visayan Daily Star, 23 January 2008
A bill seeking a ban on the entry of genetically modified organisms in the Philippines has been filed by party-list legislators, the House of Representatives said in a press release.
House Bill 2224 proposes to prohibit the entry, processing, field testing and release of crops and food products containing GMO into and within the country and imposing penalties for its violation.
The bill aims to keep the country's food and agriculture free from GMO at this time when there are still unresolved questions on its possible adverse effects on human health and environment, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro CasiÃ±o, one of the authors, said.
Casino noted that genetic engineering in food crops is relatively new, and many cases have been discovered telling the public that GMO products could seriously harm human beings and the environment, the press release said.
He also warned that threats from genetically-engineered crops are fast rising in the Philippines , adding that there are supermarkets and grocery stores selling a number of food products found to contain GMOs.
Casino said that Monsanto, a multinational corporation, has started its field testing of Bt corn in the country despite opposition from local government units and farmers in affected localities.
The country cannot afford to embrace the unproven technology of genetic engineering as it might pose serious environmental and health risks, he said, adding that it is better for the Philippines to follow other countries which acted to protect their citizens and environment from the threat of GMOs, the press release added.*