"I can say the Chinese want to use us as a major source of soybeans". Sales this year are 75% up on the same period one year ago.
- from Chinese govt meets Brazil coops to buy non-GMO (item 1)

Sales of U.S. dehydrated potatoes in Japan have dropped 37 percent since May, due to the detection of genetically modified potatoes in snack products produced from U.S. and Canadian dehy[drated]. (item 2)

"Only three applications for GM crop field trials have ever been made in Switzerland, and the agency has rejected all of them." (item 5)

But some people still don't get it!

"It is a rather saddening spectacle to see that 0.03 per cent of world-wide acreage producing GMO produce is within the confines of the EU." - Frits Bolkestein, EU's internal market commissioner (item 4)

1. Chinese govt meets Brazil coops to buy non-GMO
2. Potato Industry Encouraged to Test Seed for GMOs
3. U.S. frustration with EU delays
5. Swiss reject field test and tighten greenhouse GM trial rules


1. Chinese govt meets Brazil coops to buy non-GMO

Nov 19, 2001 (FWN Financial via COMTEX) -- A Chinese government mission met with leaders of cooperatives from the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul on Friday to negotiate orders of non-genetically modified soybeans from the 2001- 02 crop, Rio Grande do Sul Cooperatives Organization (OCERGS) president Vicente Bogo told FWN Monday. He said the meeting was fruitful and the Chinese delegation will return in January to access the progress of the crop and establish sanitary norms for imports from the 2001-02 crop, harvested from March. "It is too earlier to talk about export quantities, but I can say the Chinese want to use us as a major source of soybeans," Bogo said.

Brazilian analysts note China is particularly keen to secure produce from Brazil due to the non-transgenic status of the crop. In the first nine months of 2001 China imported 3.113 million tonnes of the 14.428 million tonnes exported sent out of Brazil. Sales this year are 75% up on the same period one year ago. Bogo said that the cooperatives would have no problem guaranteeing the soybeans sold to China are non-GMO despite the fact it is universally acknowledged that a significant portion of Rio Grande do Sul's crop are transgenic. Indeed, the State's Agriculture Secretariat admits that up to 20% of its crop is transgenic, despite the fact that there is a court injunction against planting such seeds on Brazilian soil.

Other sources believe the true figure to be much higher. The Brazilian Seed Producers Association (ABRASEM) estimates that 65-80% of the state's production will be genetically modified in the coming year. Originally, much of the seed was smuggled in across the border with neighboring Argentina. But ABRASEM Director Joao Henrique Hummel explained that this year the vast majority of the seeds have been illicitly produced within the state. Rio Grande do Sul exported 2.816 million tonnes of soybeans in the January-September period of 2001, compared with 1.404 million tonnes in the whole of 2000. The state produced an all-time record soybean harvest of 7.1 million tonnes in 2001, and Safras e Mercado estimate that the crop will rise to 7.590 million tonnes in the coming year, assuming the weather holds.
----- Alastair Stewart, FWN, 5511 3071 3990 (C) Copyright 2001 FWN -0- The Bridge ID for this story is 46956 Copyright 2001


2. Potato Industry Encouraged to Test Seed for GMOs
by Editors, 11/19/2001

Sales of U.S. dehydrated potatoes in Japan have dropped 37 percent since May, due to the detection of genetically modified potatoes in snack products produced from U.S. and Canadian dehy.

"We've got to make sure the spuds we grow are certified to be GMO free," said Jon Brownell, National Potato Promotion Board (NPPB) chairman. "The board is investing $600,000 to test for GMO and to rebuild the market share we've lost."

Adding pressure, GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling laws will be implemented in Japan and Korea in spring 2002. The NPPB is aggressively doing its part to preserve these markets, assuring the world trade that if they require a GMO-free product that the U.S. can provide it. The board urges process growers (dehy and fry) to do the same, by testing their seed during the winter grow outs.

"If all growers of potatoes destined (or even possibly destined) for processing will plant seed certified to be GMO-free, the board and the NPC can use this as proof to the governments of Japan and Korea and to buyers worldwide that the U.S. is GMO-free in potato production. The board is working with the seed certification officials to put these systems in place," the NPPB stated. Many processors will require commercial growers to provide actual proof that the seed they used in 2002 was GMO-free, the NPPB stated. To date, a majority of processors have instituted intensive Identity Preservation (IP) practices to try and assure that their raw product is GMO-free. They are doing random sampling on the line to check the finished product.

"The U.S. stands to take advantage with increased exports of dehy and frozen potatoes to the European Union (EU) because of a projected crop shortfall in the EU. During the last shortfall in 1999 and 2000, the U.S. sold an additional 76,000 metric tons (11,800,000 cwt. raw equivalent) to the EU. These sales are not possible if there is a perception that U. S. product may contain genetically modified potatoes," the NPPB stated.


3. Aldonas also made clear U.S. frustration with EU delays

Excerpt from WTO ruling may affect European tax codes, U.S. says
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS, Nov 19 (Reuters)

...Aldonas also made clear U.S. frustration with EU delays in approving new types of genetically modified crops. The EU's executive Commission in July unveiled long-awaited new rules on the labelling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aimed at restarting the EU's approval process for GMOs, which has been stalled for three years. At some point, the long delay in gaining new approvals "looks an awful lot like an embargo and at some point you have to say well that's a WTO violation
...," Aldonas said. However, he added, no one was yet talking about launching a dispute at the WTO. He said that in their current design, the EU's proposed new rules on labelling did not seem to be commercially workable. "We are going to continue to work with our (European) counterparts to see if we can encourage them to fashion rules that are more workable...," he said. REUTERS


4. Get moving on GM
Graeme Wilson Political Correspondent
DAILY MAIL (London) November 20, 2001
BRUSSELS is pressing Tony Blair for a dramatic expansion in the quantity of GM crops grown in Britain. European commissioner Frits Bolkestein delivered the message yesterday at a meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street. Earlier, Mr Bolkestein said he would be telling Mr Blair it was crucial Europe started to take a lead in the field of genetically modified organisms. He declared that Britain and the rest of the EU should be 'mastering new technology' but was failing to do so in this area. 'GM products are making no progress,' said Mr Bolkestein. 'It's rather a saddening spectacle to see that 0.03 per cent of worldwide acreage producing GMs is within the confines of the EU compared to about 60 to 70 per cent in the U.S. 'We want to hold our own and we want to lead in new technologies - and this is a new technology of prime importance.'

Mr Bolkestein also brushed aside concerns about the safety of GM crops. 'I'm talking about products that have been approved by the EU's scientific committee,' he said. His uncompromising message on an issue officially outside his remit - he deals with the EU's internal market, taxation and customs - signals Brussels' growing determination to press ahead with GM crops despite public opposition. But it came on the day that two more protesters were cleared of causing criminal damage to GM crops planted as part of farm trials in Britain. Mr Bolkestein's decision to raise the issue with Mr Blair reflects the Prime Minister's position as a leading supporter of GM technology. While Labour agreed a three-year moratorium on the commercial growing of GM crops with the big biotechology firms to stave off public criticism, the Prime Minister is an enthusiastic advocate of the industry. Mr Blair appeared to back down in February last year when he acknowledged that there was 'legitimate public concern' about GM crops. But five months later he changed tack by giving strong backing to the industry. Yesterday's decision by a jury at Worcester Crown Court to clear two protesters of causing criminal damage to a field of GM maize renewed pressure on the Government to review its policy on field trials. Barbara Charvet, 59, and Jim Ridout, 26, cut down about two acres of both GM and non-GM plants at Rosemaund Farm, Preston Wynne, Herefordshire, in August last year. Mrs Charvet, of Michaelchurch Escley, and Mr Ridout, of Orcop, both Herefordshire, claimed they were compelled to act after their concerns about GM trials in Herefordshire to the Government, supermarkets and MPs 'fell on deaf ears'. The jury appeared to accept their defence that they had a lawful excuse for their actions. Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Adrian Bebb said he was not surprised that Mr Bolkestein had decided to deliver such a strong message to Mr Blair. 'For years our Prime Minister has effectively been the U.S. spokesman on GM crops in Europe, but the fact remains that people across Europe remain deeply sceptical about this technology,' he said. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


5. Swiss to tighten greenhouse GM trial rules
Environment Daily 1106, 20/11/01

The Swiss environment agency today announced rejection of an application to field test a genetically-modified (GM) crop, maintaining the country's reputation as one of the world's most resistant to the practice. There is also an urgent need to tighten biosafety regulations for GM crop trials in greenhouses, said agency director Philippe Roch. Only three applications for GM crop field trials have ever been made in Switzerland, and the agency has rejected all of them. Mr Roch told Environment Daily that there was no ban on field trials but that Switzerland's strict criteria on environmental and health risks made acceptance less likely than in many other European countries. Today's decision concerns an application from a public research centre to conduct a small field trial with a genetically-modified strain of wheat. The agency refused permission on the grounds that the plants would have posed a potential threat to the soil ecosystem. It added that there were unresolved questions relating to antibiotic resistance marker genes, a lack of information on the variety and inadequate background research. Consideration of the case has led the agency to a review of existing regulations for ongoing GM trials in greenhouses. "In my view, it's not really a closed environment" at the moment, Mr Roch said. The review will focus on how to seal greenhouses from pollen and insects plus how to create closed systems for use of resources such as water and soil.
Follow-up: Swiss environment agency, tel: +41 31 322 9311,
and press release