24 April 2003
Pioneer biotech corn taints Hawaii crops - EPA/etc.
*Pioneer biotech corn taints Hawaii crops - EPA
*Actor asks Kraft to take biotech out of its U.S. food
*Bayer, Lilly, DuPont, Dow may face apartheid lawsuit in 2-3 months
*Farmers fret over 'frankenfoods': U of A research shows most want labelling
*Feds moving forward on GM Wheat
*Ho Replies To Morton
Pioneer biotech corn taints Hawaii crops - EPA
Source - Reuters Commodities News (Eng)
Thursday, April 24, 2003 05:12
By Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - An unapproved bioengineered corn crop, made by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, accidentally contaminated a small number of nearby crops in Hawaii, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday.
The EPA said it fined Pioneer, a unit of DuPont Co, $72,000 for not immediately notifying the agency when preliminary tests indicated 12 stalks of corn were tainted with traces of an unapproved crop.
"Pioneer destroyed the plants that tested positive before they pollinated, and the EPA is confident that corn intended for human consumption was not affected," the EPA said. At its research nursery in Kauai, Hawaii, Pioneer tests several different crop varieties to meet strict regulatory guidelines before the products can be commercialized.
Pioneer spokeswoman Courtney Dreyer said an unapproved insect-resistant corn variety grown at its nursery accidentally seeped into a nearby field. The EPA said the company was fined for not immediately alerting officials of its findings, a violation of a settlement the two sides agreed to in December.
In December, Pioneer paid about $10,000 to settle federal allegations it planted a separate insect-resistant corn variety too close to conventional crops.
As part of the agreement, the company promised to perform additional crop testing and immediately alert the EPA if it found any evidence of the unapproved corn tainted nearby fields.
"The fine was for missing a reporting deadline on preliminary tests ... not for the test results," Dreyer said. "It was a regrettable error."
Dreyer said the company has already paid the $72,000 fine. The EPA said it referred the finding of tainted corn to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Jim Rogers, spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said it was investigating Pioneer for possible violations of the Plant Protection Act. He would not elaborate.
Consumer advocates welcomed the EPA's actions, but said future fines should be much higher.
"To truly deter such bad corporate behavior in the future, fines ten or twenty times higher may be appropriate," said Gregory Jaffe, biotech director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
"Neither the industry nor the government is doing enough to contain biotech field trials."
Actor asks Kraft to take biotech out of its U.S. food
April 23, 2003
BY SANDRA GUY CHicago Sun-Times
Call it National Lampoon's Kraft vacation.
Chevy Chase, the actor known for the "National Lampoon" movies, asked Kraft Foods executives Tuesday to remove genetically engineered ingredients from the food it sells in the United States, and warned of the risks to the food supply of crops grown to produce pharmaceuticals. "I don't want my family to accidentally ingest a pig vaccine when they eat an Oreo, or inadvertently eat a blood clotter (medication) when they pour a bowl of Alpha-Bits," Chase said at Kraft's annual shareholders' meeting in East Hanover, N.J.
Chase's wife, Jayni, who expressed her concerns as a mother of three daughters, is active in the organic foods movement.
Because of consumer outcry outside the United States, Kraft prohibits genetically altered ingredients in the products it sells in Europe.
Kraft Foods' Chairman Louis Camilleri, who is also CEO of Kraft's parent company, Altria Group (formerly called Philip Morris Cos.), said federal regulators have approved biotech ingredients for use in food, and that biotech products can have nutritional and environmental benefits.
Camilleri agreed with Chase on the importance of segregating so-called biopharm crops from the regular food supply. Kraft Co-CEO Betsy Holden, who heads Northfield-based Kraft Foods, recently urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to impose stricter rules to ensure that biopharm crops don't commingle with the food supply. Holden shares the title with Co-CEO Roger Deromedi, who is in charge of Kraft's operations outside North America.
Bayer, Lilly, DuPont, Dow may face apartheid lawsuit in 2-3 months
Source - AFX Asia (Eng)
Wednesday, April 23, 2003 15:49
FRANKFURT (AFX) - Bayer AG and three US companies may face a US lawsuit in the next two to three months for allegedly supplying defoliants for military uses to the former South African apartheid regime, US lawyer Ed Fagan told the Financial Times Deutschland. The US companies are Eli Lilly Co, El DuPont de Nemours & Co and Dow Chemical Co. However, Fagan said the lawsuit can be still avoided if the companies make public internal documents about the products.
"Otherwise, the lawsuits will be filed in 60-90 days," said Fagan, who became known for representing former slave labourers under the Nazi regime in lawsuits against German companies. Fagan told the paper he had contacted the companies in writing last Friday. However, a Bayer spokesman said it has not yet had contact with Fagan.
The spokesman added Bayer has produced defoliants but for agricultural uses only and not for military uses. "Bayer has sold these defoliants to South African farmers, and there is no knowledge of any misuse of these products," he said.
Farmers fret over 'frankenfoods': U of A research shows most want labelling
Calgary Herald (Alberta, Canada) April 22, 2003 Tuesday
An overwhelming majority of Canadians want so-called "frankenfoods" clearly labelled as genetically modified products, says a soon-to-be-released University of Alberta study. That finding has Alberta crop producers worried. They are adamantly opposed to mandatory labelling and fear plummeting sales if forced to identify their products as genetically modified foods. The new survey reveals that at least 75 per cent of Canadians want GM foods labelled as a warning to consumers.
"A very strong majority declared there should be labelling (of genetically modified foods), on the order of at least three-quarters (of respondents)," said Michele Veeman, a professor in the department of rural economy at the U of A, who will present some of her findings this weekend at a conference on genomics in Kananaskis. There is currently no law requiring labelling of genetically modified foods, in Canada or the United States. Some opponents of genetic modification, however, are lobbying Ottawa to require GM labelling. Neil Wagstaff, president of the Wild Rose Agricultural Producers, said most producers are worried that mandatory food labelling will result in a knee-jerk reaction by the public against GM products. "Compulsory labelling terrifies agricultural producers," Wagstaff said. ---
Feds moving forward on GM Wheat
SASKATOON- Opponents of genetically modified (GM) wheat may have a difficult time convincing Ottawa to impose a moratorium, even though many prairie farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board don't want it Canada until markets warrant the need.
The federal government says the marketability of a product should not be a factor when considering registering new crops. The government even changed the rules to make sure science prevails in the debate over genetically modified products.
Ho Replies To Morton
This article can be found on the I-SIS website at
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/hrtm.phpRoger Morton's submission to the GM Science Review in response to the first submission from ISIS, "ISIS' response to ACRE's response to Chardon LL" contains some misrepresentations that I should like to put right.
On horizontal gene transfer, I have referred to the work of Doerfler's group over a period of time, indicating that ingested transgenic DNA can pass through the gut and placenta to the cells of the animal, including those of the foetuses and newborn. I did not state that transgenic DNA could go into the germ cells, nor did I intend to cite Hohlweg and Doerfler's paper to that effect. The early references are well known, I and others have cited them frequently. Here they are:
Schubbert R, Rentz D, Schmitz B and Döerfler W. Foreign (M13 DNA ingested by mice reaches peripheral leukocytes, spleen and liver via the intestinal wall mucosa and can be covalently linked to mouse DNA. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 1997, 94, 961-6.
Döerfler W, and Schubbert R. Uptake of foreign DNA from the environment: the gastrointestinal tract and the placenta as portals of entry. Wien Klin. Wochenschr. 1998, 110, 40-4.
I have reviewed the recent paper by Hohlweg and Doerfler in some detail in an earlier report, entitled, "Suppression & denial over horizontal gene transfer", which I now submit to the GM Science Review. My report criticised that paper for falling short of obtaining definitive results that could easily have been accomplished by comparing the transfer of transgenic and non-transgenic DNA in the same GM food sample.
Morton's critique on our definition of naked DNA is irrelevant, as both naked and protein/histone covered DNA can nevertheless be transferred, as shown, for example, by FSA's released report on the transfer of transgenic DNA from GM soya flour to gut bacteria, which again, I have had the occasion to review in detail, in a report entitled, "Stacking the odds against finding horizontal gene transfer". I criticised that experiment for having been designed to bias against detecting horizontal transfer of transgenic DNA, hence the actual transfer could be far more extensive than reported (in the gut content of individuals with colostomy bags). The fact that transgenic DNA could not be detected from the faeces of healthy individuals is not reassuring because transgenic DNA may have passed through the gut wall into the bloodstream, a possibility suggested by findings from Doerfler's group mentioned above. No attempt was made to monitor for transgenic DNA in the bloodstream. I now submit this second report to the GM Science Review.
On the hazards of Agrobacterium, I have written a detailed report reviewing relevant literature suggesting a possible scenario that the Agrobacterium-based vector system could be a vehicle for gene escape, a suggestion first made in a UK MAFF commissioned research. This third report, "Averting sense for nonsense in horizontal gene transfer" I now submit to the GM Science review.
All three reports have previously been circulated on the ISIS' e-mail list and appeared in Science in Society Fall 2002, issue 16. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/isisnews/sis16.php
On CaMV 35S promoter and transgenic instability, Morton has not raised any point that I have not already replied to in my first submission. It is for the panel to judge.
Similarly, I stand by what I have written on the similarity between transgenic constructs used in genetic modification of plants, animals and human cells. Note that since my first submission to the GM Science Review, gene therapy has claimed its second cancer victim.
All of the above points will be dealt with in greater detail in my forthcoming book, Living with the Fluid Genome, ISIS and TWN, London and Penang, 2003. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/fluidGenome.php
Suppression & denial in horizontal gene transfer
Stacking the odds against finding horizontal gene transfer
Averting sense for nonsense in horizontal gene transfer
will be one of the major themes at
Biodevastation 7: A Forum on Environmental Racism, World Agriculture and
May 16 - 18, 2003, St. Louis, Missouri, www.biodev.org
Mark Mitchell, M.D., Director, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental
Michael Hansen, Research Associate, Consumer Policy Institute
Sujatha Byravan, Executive Director, Council for Responsible Genetics
The panel "Environmental Racism and Genetic Engineering" will be at 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 17. It will link struggles for justice and healthy communities with threats posed by genetic technologies. The panel will bring together people who work on environmental justice advocacy with those who work on genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture and human genetic technologies. It will be a unique opportunity to discuss how genetic technologies may pose a hazard to the health of people of color and low-income people, and how the technologies are being used to discriminate against and exploit communities of color.
The goals and applications of all technologies need to be examined for their effects on diverse communities. The track record of Monsanto illustrates how corporations are able to function in a society that accepts environmental racism, leaving many without adequate protection against polluters.
Dr. Mark Mitchell, founding president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, has spent nearly 20 years working in the public health sector on struggles for environmental justice. Dr. Mitchell has spent the past five years educating communities on effects of the environment on health. Working primarily with people of color and low-income people, he teaches what can be done to prevent and reduce the disproportionately higher rates of disease in their communities. As a physician specializing in epidemiology and public health he will outline some of the major environmental health threats for communities of color and how communities have successfully fought for their rights to safe and healthy environments.
Dr. Michael Hansen is a scientist with the Consumer Policy Institute who has worked with African governments' pressured by the US to accept GE food as "food aid." The US government argues that it has regulated GE foods for safety and that governments across the developing world should therefore accept them. Dr. Hansen has played an important role of providing information on the weaknesses of US regulations and health hazards to African government officials. He has witnessed US pressure tactics since he also participates in international food safety negotiations (Codex) where richer governments use bullying tactics to force their positions. Dr. Hansen is also concerned with the use of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). His expertise on the health impacts of rBGH was an important part of the successful struggle in Canada against its approval. There could be particular problems with consumption of GE foods in low income communities and communities of color by those who already face multiple health threats.
Sujatha Byravan, Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Genetics, will discuss issues raised by the medical applications of genetic engineering, especially genetic screening. Genetic tests to determine individual or family risk for genetically influenced diseases raise questions about the implications for communities of color. Genetic screening could lead to discrimination against individuals and communities that possess particular genes as well as lead to reproductive decisions based on the genetic information. Screening for genetic "predisposition" to occupational health hazards is already underway in some workplaces and people may be prevented from obtaining insurance due to a high risk factor for a certain disease. Diseases such as sickle-cell anemia (which occurs among African Americans) could be associated with discrimination based on genetic information.
The panel presentation will open up important issues for discussion and strategizing that will continue in workshops and other panels throughout the weekend. Biodevastation 7 also includes the following panel discussions:
10:00 am, Friday, May 16. "The International Threat to Farms and Farmers"
7:00 pm, Friday, May 16. "Globalization and Food Imperialism"
10:00 am, Saturday, May 17. "Backyard Bioweapons: Biolabs, Biodefense,
Biotech, & Billions of $"
10:00 am, Sunday, May 18. "Crop Contamination and the Future of
On the afternoon of Sunday, May 18 there will be an anti-globalization
convergence at the World Agricultural Forum. www.worldagforum.com or