Reporting Breaking News in the Biotech Food Debate
The DAILY BRIEF for 3-4 July, 2001 (( 25 Items ))
(xx) GE Fish Moratorium Up for Vote. Congressmen Need Your Opinion. See http://18.104.22.168/listarchive/index.cfm?list_id=30 (2 July) and Write to Congressman: http://www.house.gov/htbin/wrep_findrep
(1) CODEX GM Draft may be Tightened (Financial Times, London) http://alertwizard.hoovers.com/display.php?repo=newsedge&ipage=578498& July 02, 2001 03:01 PM. Draft international safety guidelines for genetically modified foods, due to be approved this week, will require a radical tightening of US safety assessment procedures if genetically modified crops from the US are to have open access to the main export markets. `
The draft guidelines, which set out basic principles governing risk and safety assessments for genetically modified (GM) foods, are expected to be adopted at this week's meeting in Geneva of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), the 165-member world body that sets international food safety standards. Norms set by Codex, which is run jointly by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), are used as benchmarks in World Trade Organisation disputes to help determine whether a country's safety standards represent a disguised barrier to trade. Failure by the US to adopt Codex standards would make it hard for Washington to challenge action by other WTO members to bar or restrict US exports of GM crops. Conversely, the use of Codex standards would help the US attack trade curbs that lack a scientific justification as well as reassuring consumers that GM foods are safe. The absence of international norms, coupled with ....
(2) Engineered Corn Found In White Tortilla Chips http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16045-2001Jul3.html By Marc Kaufman.Washington Post Staff Writer.Wednesday, July 4, 2001. StarLink corn, the genetically modified yellow variety whose presence in food products last fall resulted in widespread recalls, has been found for the first time in a white corn product. The discovery underscores the food industry's difficulties in keeping modified and conventional crops apart. `
The Food and Drug Administration found genetic material from StarLink corn in Kash n' Karry White Corn Tortilla Chips last month in response to a complaint from a consumer in Florida. An FDA official said the agency did not request a recall, but both the Kash n' Karry and Food Lion grocery chains pulled the house brand product from their shelves yesterday. Last fall, many corn chip and tortilla makers switched to white corn -- which makes up less than 3 percent of the American corn market -- to reassure consumers concerned about the possible presence of StarLink in their taco shells and corn chips. At the time, producers said the use of white corn eliminated the risk of inadvertently introducing StarLink into their products. StarLink, genetically modified by Aventis CropSciences to contain a pesticide protein, was never approved for human use because of concerns that it might cause dangerous allergic reactions. Recent tests by the FDA, however, did not find antibodies to the StarLink protein in 17 people who had complained of possible allergy attacks after eating corn products. The FDA found the StarLink gene in the white corn chips after being notified by Keith Finger, a Florida optometrist who was one of the 17 tested earlier. Finger said his wife bought the white corn chips after hearing reports that it could not contain StarLink. He said he ate some, suffered another, milder reaction and immediately contacted the FDA. An FDA spokesperson said the agency was "continuing to follow up on the situation" but did not elaborate. The presence of StarLink in a white corn product illustrates how difficult it is to keep genetically modified crops from spreading. White corn is....
(2-b) StarLink Bio-Corn Found in White Corn Products http://news.excite.com/news/r/010704/02/science-food-starlink-dc Updated: Wed, Jul 04 2:38 AM EDT .WASHINGTON (Reuters) - StarLink corn, the genetically modified yellow variety whose presence in food products last fall resulted in widespread recalls, has been found for the first time in a white corn product, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The Post said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered genetic material from StarLink corn in Kash n' Karry White Corn Tortilla Chips last month in response to a complaint from a consumer in Florida. `
An FDA official said the agency did not request a recall, but both the Kash n' Karry and Food Lion grocery chains pulled the house brand product from their shelves on Tuesday, according to the paper. No immediate comment was available from FDA officials or Aventis SA, the Franco-German pharmaceutical group that makes the biotech corn. Last fall, many....
(3) India Debate Over GM cotton Heats Up
State of Karnataka Anxious for Bt Cotton, Monsanto
July 02, 2001 02:22 PM BANGALORE, India, Jul 1, 2001 (Inter Press Service via COMTEX) --
As the world debates over the safety of genetically modified crops, India's southern state of Karnataka is anxious to reap the advantages of new technology and thus wants quick approval for the agrochemical giant Monsanto's Bt cotton. Indeed, the Karnataka government reacted with strong criticism last week after green activists forced India's federal Ministry of Environment and Forests to defer by a year a decision on the commercial planting of Monsanto's Bollgard variety of Bt cotton. With Greenpeace International and other activist groups breathing down....
(3-b) India Letter - "Monsanto's GM Cotton Not Safe" www.i-sis.org ISIS, London, 19 June 2001. Report: Monsanto's GM Cottons & Gonorrhea, Strongly worded advice against the approval of Monsanto's GM cotton was given by UK Government scientists warning of antibiotic resistance genes that would make gonorrhea untreatable, See www.i-sis.org. To see the MAFF document, go to http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/maff/archive/food/novel/cotton.htm
(4) USDA Report: Changing Structure of Global Food Consumption and Trade
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/wrs011/ 26 June 2001.
Demographic shifts, improved transportation, and consumer perceptions regarding quality and safety are changing global food consumption patterns. Shifts in food consumption have led to increased trade and changes in the composition of world agricultural trade. Given different diets, food expenditure and food budget responses to income and price changes vary between developing and developed countries. In developing countries, higher income results in increased demand for meat products, often leading to increased import of live-stockfeed. Diet diversification and increasing demand for better quality and labor-saving products have increased imports of high-value and processed food products in developed countries. Consumer groups in developed countries have also brought attention to organic production of food and the topic of animal welfare. One way in which the public and private sectors have responded to consumer demand for these quality attributes has been by developing and implementing mandatory and voluntary quality control, management, and assurance schemes....
(5) New USDA Data Base on Food Safety, R&D Programs, Spending, Programs, Links, More. WASHINGTON, July 2-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture today launched a new Web site (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fsrio) aimed at providing a database of food safety research projects to the research community and the general public. The Web site provides detailed information on food safety research projects, spending, and accomplishments by U.S. Federal agencies, along with links to other important food safety research information.....
(6) French regional govt to subsidize buying non-GM soymeal
July 3, 2001 6:27am.Paris, July 3 (BridgeNews) - The government of the Aquitaine region in southwest France is launching a 4-million-franc plan to help cattle farmers buy local non-genetically modified soymeal for feed, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. The council estimated the farmers pay 800 francs per tonne more to buy local soymeal than they would pay for imported soymeal, and the aid would cover half of that additional cost.... advantage for farmers to buy local soymeal is that the product is fully traceable and GM-free, a council spokesman said. The expected cost of 4 million francs is based on the region's cattle population of around 20,000. The measure complements a ....
(7) GM crop benefits are 'being ignored' (The Times, London)
From Professor V. Moses. Sir, For some years there has been a concerted, and largely politically motivated, campaign against agricultural biotechnology in general and genetically modified crops in particular. Their proven and potential future benefits have been so submerged by a mass of misinformation, scare-mongering and media-targeted stunts about hypothetical hazards that we in Europe are in danger of forfeiting our opportunity to participate at the fore- front of developing world agriculture. It is entirely proper to question the value, relevance and impact of any new technology. It is equally sensible to listen to answers as they become available. Regrettably....
(8) WHO. Poor Countries Urged to upgrade Food Safety (Reuters)
Tuesday, July 03, 2001By Reuters GENEVA - Two million children die from contaminated food and water each year in developing countries, the WHO chief said Monday, urging them to upgrade rapidly the safety and quality of their food products. The appeal came from Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization and Hartwig de Haen, assistant director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, who also backed further research on genetically modified foods, or GM. They were addressing the opening of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint WHO-FAO body that sets standards for the international food trade sector valued at $400 billion annually. The weeklong talks attended by most of the 165 member countries who adhere to the voluntary code follow a string of food safety alerts which have eroded global consumer confidence. De Haen said: "Concern over BSE (mad cow disease), the dioxin crisis in 1999, numerous outbreaks of food-borne illnesses due to microbiological contamination of foods and the appearance in human food of a genetically modified maize approved only for animal feeding has strongly influenced public opinion." Brundtland, a former Norwegian prime minister and medical doctor, told the talks: "We need to improve the systems we use to ensure food safety and re-establish consumer confidence, we must reassess them all the way from the farm to the table." Delegates will discuss consumer issues including food derived from biotechnology, labeling of organic and genetically modified food, food additives and contaminants such as cadmium in cereals and aflotoxin in milk. "Governments across....
(9) Thai FDA decides GM food must be Labelled
2 July;. Focus on corn and soybean initially. Aphaluck Bhatiasevi. Food products containing more than 3-5% of genetically modified corn or soybean will be required to have labels, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday. Speaking after a meeting to draft a ministerial announcement on GM food products, FDA secretary-general Vichai Chokewiwat said only two products would be covered in the initial stage. The FDA had to make sure it had the capacity to test all”¦
(10) Monsanto France weighs action after GM crop Attack
Source: Reuters PARIS, July 3 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co's French subsidiary is considering legal action following the destruction of a gene-modified (GM) maize test field just days after the farm ministry published a list of all GM crop trials in France. Monsanto Agriculture France said in a statement on Tuesday it may file a lawsuit against as-yet unnamed parties and urged greater protection of GM crop trials following the latest incident in southwest France. The trial involved maize engineered to resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and had been authorised under French and European Union laws, the company said. Monsanto said the attack came shortly after the farm ministry last week published a list of all GM crop trials in France, following a court decision earlier this year ordering the government to do so for the sake of greater transparency. The farm ministry did not publish the exact location of the sites but listed the towns near where they were located. "Unfortunately, the facts of last week showed that the transparency desired by some is quickly exploited by others in order to satisfy...opposition behaviour that is blind and illegal," the company said in ....
(12) GM Crop withdrawals Increasing
GM Food News.Com. The US is attempting to spin us into accepting GM contamination because it's already there (which it actually isn't for most foods). This is part of an underhand "public relations" campaign being run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US food/agribusinesses to get the rest of the world to accept their GM-contaminated wares. ` Apart from GM soya and GM maize, which are already in widespread use in US agriculture, other GM crops are being withdrawn or never released in the first place. This is because consumers in the US and US export markets, the EU and Japan, will not accept GM ingredients. Interestingly a number of recent withdrawals have started in Canada, where consumer awareness of GM foods is greater than in the US. Here's a list of some recent withdrawals....
(13) Night time crop decontamination in Lincolnshire
Genetic Engineering Network has just received reports of a night-time GM action in Lincolnshire on Monday 2nd July. Rowan Tilly and one other person spent five hours last night damaging a farm scale trial of genetically modified spring oil seed rape. This morning members of the press visited the site and talked with Rowan Tilly. The site at Low Burnham....
(14) U.S. Farmers Break Ground in Europe with Biotech
The State Journal-Register Springfield, IL 3 July 2001.
Biotech issues are at the forefront of Leon Corzine's mind as he bales hay this week on his farm near Assumption. He recently returned from a trade mission to the European Union, one of six farmers and National Corn Growers Association leaders to make the trip. `
The group visited Brussels, Belgium; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Geneva, Switzerland and Paris to meet with corn co-product importers, European Commission officials, World Trade Organization ambassadors, consumer groups and leaders of the French Corn Growers Association. Many had never met with U.S. farmers before. "I do think we made some headway," said Corzine. "There has been no one there telling the farmers' side. The whole issue has been framed by the biotech industry and those on the fringes." A primary obstacle during meetings was the myths surrounding biotech. "One of the myths is the United States only sends biotech corn overseas and we only use non-biotech," said Rick Tolman, executive vice president and CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. "We want them to know the U.S. is customer-friendly when it comes to trade. We want to send the message we can send the right product for the right market." Corzine said Europeans aren't aware that 76 percent of the U.S. corn crop is non-biotech, nor did they understand why ....
(15) Multinationals Lobby for GMO testing in Mindanao getting louder
Asia Intelligence Wire. July 04, 2001 03:16 AM DAVAO CITY -
Multinational companies (MNCs) have significantly gained an edge on their campaign to use Mindanao's fertile farms as testing field for genetically altered seeds, a local environmentalist told BusinessWorld yesterday. `
It's obvious those MNCs are now using their resources to convince local groups to support GMO (genetically modified organisms) field testing, said Cory Requiza, director of Konsumo Dabaw, a local environmental and consumer protection group. Ms. Requiza said a local network of civil society groups opposed to GMO field testing will be meeting this weekend to map out plans in response to this issue. Two weeks ago, the influential Mindanao Business Council (MBC) included biotechnology promotion on its list of resolutions to be presented in the Mindanao Business Conference to be held next month in Cotabato City. Last week, the Gen. Santos-based Southern Mindanao Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives, Inc. (SMFACI) called for the approval of field testing GMOs in Mindanao. Ms. Requiza said the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) has given US agriculture giant Monsanto a clearance to test its....
(16) USDA Attache Releases Analysis of China's GMO Rules.
July 3, 2001.Business Recorder.WASHINGTON : The US Agriculture Department's attache in Beijing released the following report, dated June 27, on the effects of new Chinese regulations regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Attache reports are not official USDA data. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: China's new regulations on management and labelling of GMOs has raised fears that it will limit soybean imports. The Ministry of Agriculture recently published its own analysis of the impact that restricting imports would have on China. A translation of that analysis is included in the report. MOA's Assessment of the GMO Management Regulation China recently issued a regulation on the management of genetically modified organisms that could have a substantial impact on soybean imports. Among other things, the regulation will require safety certification of all domestic and imported GMOs, and labelling of GMOs and processed products containing GMO materials. Just how much impact this regulation will have on trade will depend on the implementing regulations. These are now being drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture. The MOA website's analysis and forecasting department recently published its own appraisal of the impact that restricting GMO imports would have on China. While some of the details and....
(17) 04 Jul 2001. Just-Food.com Editorial Team.
China: 'Super Rice' to Double Grain Yield by 2008
www.just-food.com News. A joint research project being undertaken by Chinese scientists from Hong Kong, the US and China is expected to result in a genetically modified 'super rice' that could yield double the harvest of normal grain by 2008, reports the South China Morning Post . Traditionally, the yield of rice is about 360kg per mu, a Chinese land measurement equivalent to about 0.6 hectares. First-generation hybrid rice, which is already feeding half the population of China, provides about 450kg per mu, a figure that could be doubled to...
(18) StarLink. Korea KOCOPIA shuns US corn on food Contamination
Tokyo, July 3 (BridgeNews) - South Korea's sole food-grade corn buying group, Korea Corn Processing Industrial Association (KOCOPIA), is requesting international trading houses to either replace U.S. corn it had earlier bought at tenders with South American corn, or to deliver non-U.S. corn under optional-origin tenders following last week's discovery by local authorities of StarLink traces in corn starch production, a KOCOPIA official told BridgeNews. The group will also indefinitely exclude the U.S. as an optional origin at future tender purchases, he added...
(19) The Ragtag Uprisers (The Populist)
A couple of months ago this column talked about "The Biotech Defenders," those scientists who have been pressed into industrial service to try to convince us that genetically-altered foods will save the world and feed all the hungry. This in spite of the fact that the only result so far for genetically-altered crops is to increase farmer demand for expensive chemicals. `
The "Biotech Defenders" column was inspired by a December 6, 2000, Wall Street Journal op-ed signed by botanist Norman Borlaug and titled "We Need Biotech to Feed the World," promoting the myth that our farmers can export their way to prosperity. Borlaug was born in 1914 in Cresco, Iowa, and won the Nobel Prize for wheat hybrids developed at the Mexican government's National Promotion Agency for Seeds, funded by the Ford Foundation. Borlaug's hybrids were exported to governments that convinced themselves that the new methods were a modern improvement over traditional crops. Governments persuaded, even coerced, farmers to plant the new hybrids. Farmers abandoned....
(20) Genetically-modified oil palms: The final threat
W R M B U L L E T I N 47, June 2001. http://www.wrm.org.uy
Despite the numerous social and environmental impacts of monoculture oil palm plantations, the industry is continuously trying to increase productivity and lower costs, which can only lead to even more serious impacts on people and nature. It is the system's perverse logic. Within that logic, the obvious step forward is genetic manipulation of oil palms. Not only to increase productivity, but to alter the end-product: palm oil. And they are already working in that direction.
Malaysian Palm Oil Association chief executive M.R. Chandran has publicly declared that "the priority should be to develop transgenic palms for better oil quality, yield and minimal height". To work in that direction, he added, "the industry must build alliances with established R&D institutions, universities and industry players, both locally and overseas, to make possible a quantum leap in applied and adaptive research work." For him, clones are not enough. Chandran said that "the national CPO [Crude palm oil] yield has stagnated at 3.6 to 3.8 tonnes/ha in the past 13 years even though....
(21-b) More Articles on GM Trees:
(22) Bangkok to Host Crop Debate
ASIA WorldSources, Inc. An international debate on the safety of genetically modified food and crops is to be held at the United Nations building in Bangkok from July 10 to 12, the British Embassy said yesterday. The conference will also look at ways to handle public concerns and at building the best scientific knowledge available into an international consensus, the statement said. British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, his Thai counterpart Suvit Khunkitti and Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Herwig Schlogl will open the conference, called New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society. About 200 participants are expected to attend....
(23) Italian Public Votes out Anti-GMO Greens
Anna Meldolesi , Nature Biotechnology, July 2001.gttp://biotech.nature.com.
After a tense electoral campaign marred by anti-GMO issues, Italy’s center-left coalition government - the first to include Green Party ministries was defeated in the national election on 13 May. The extreme anti-GMO antics of the world?s first Green agricultural minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio are widely blamed for the demise of the Green party in Italy, and the saga presents a lesson to Green parties elsewhere in Europe.
Since taking office in May 2000, Pecoraro Scanio has become the most notorious antiGMO minister in Europe. He banned products derived from GM corn commercialized elsewhere in the EU (Nat. Biotechnol. 18, 1137, 2000), he pressed the Italian environment minister not to drop the European de facto moratorium on GMOs, and he persuaded the European Council of ministers not to approve a new directive on vines as it showed some softening toward GM varieties (Nat. Biotechnol. 19, 15, 2001). But his political demise began in earnest last autumn, when he suspended ministerial funds for agbiotech research. The move prompted a protest by top scientists, forcing him to back down in front of the prime minister (Nat. Biotechnol. 19, 293, 2001). Luigi Manconi, former secretary of the Green Party, says it was this protest that caused a great loss of historical support for the party, particularly from the intellectual middle class. Pecoraro Scanio remained....
(24) Gutless Committee. GM Committee Defers Clearance.
Business Standard (India) (Editorial) 26-Jun-2001. The bid to reap the fruits of biotechnology has come a cropper -- yet again. The genetic engineering approval committee of the environment ministry has once again deferred clearance of Mahyco's trans-genic Bt cotton for commercial cultivation, even after three years of limited field trials under the government's and experts' supervision. Though convinced to at least some degree of the utility of new seeds, the committee nevertheless could not resist succumbing to the anti-biotechnology lobby. It has ordered fresh trials for one more year, under the surveillance of yet another committee to be set up by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
This should not be viewed as a victory for the opponents of genetically modified (GM) crops. For, sooner or later, the cultivation of GM crops is bound to begin. Nor is it a defeat of the scientific community and the millions of farmers who are overwhelmingly in favour of exploiting this state-of-the-art technology for ushering in the next phase of the green revolution. The real triumph (if there is one) is for the bureaucracy and its penchant for deferring action on contentious issues, perhaps for want of the courage of conviction. India already....
(25) China To Set Pace In Transgenic Cotton Planting
http://22.214.171.124/listarchive/index.cfm?list_id=118 (4 July Post)
By Lee Chyen Yee, Reuters June 28, 2001. GUILIN, China, June 28
(Reuters) - China will set the pace in planting genetically modified (GM) cotton with its acreage seen growing the fastest in coming years, Chinese agricultural officials and cotton analysts said on Thursday. Beijing is gearing up to push farmers to sow more GM cotton....
(25-b) More China GMO News Stories at: