25 March 2003
LICENSING A GM ‘LEMON’/PESTICIDES CAUSE PARKINSON'S ETC.
"To me it's irresponsible they're even doing these test plots, especially when the market -- consumers and customers -- said they don't want it."
*GM wheat a real 'lemon'
*Indian Head trial ended
*Some pesticides may lead to Parkinson's disease: study
*Exposure to pesticides is lowered when young children go organic
*Modified food a risk to environment
[all items via AGNET MARCH 25, 2003]
GM WHEAT A REAL 'LEMON'
March 25, 2003
The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
(The paper referred to is available at
Paul Hanley, a freelance writer with a special interest in the environment, writes that permitting the release of genetically engineered Roundup Ready wheat (RRW) to Canadian farms would make about as much sense as deliberately releasing mad cow disease.
Hanley goes on to state that the Canadian Wheat Board, the agency which sells Canada's wheat to the world, surveyed its customers and discovered that 82 per cent of them do not want and would not buy wheat that is genetically modified (GM). The reasons for this are not environmental or ethical but economic: these customers know they can't sell GM products to consumers. Right or wrong, consumers -- especially those in Europe -- do not want to eat GM food.
Hanley also notes that in a paper entitled The Optimal Time to License a Biotech 'Lemon', a group of agricultural economists at the University of Saskatchewan considered the potential impacts if Canada was to introduce RRW into the world grain market. Since segregation isn't feasible, and GM wheat genetics will contaminate non-GM fields and shipments, many foreign customers -- and even domestic millers -- will stop buying Canadian wheat.
Consequently, all farmers, those growing GM wheat and those who don't, would lose money, about $45.8 million and $32.3 million respectively. Only Monsanto would make money, about $157 million, the study found.
INDIAN HEAD TRIAL ENDED
Mach 25, 2003
The Leader-Post (Regina)/CP
The Canadian Agriculture Department, according to these stories, suspended a trial of genetically modified wheat two years ago at its Indian Head experimental farm -- a centre for breeder seed -- due to "the low probability" seed might mix.
But, the stories note, tests of Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat will continue at other government sites and some farm groups say they will continue to advocate an end to all such trials.
John Culley, program director with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's research branch in Ottawa, was cited as saying officials took all the necessary precautions with the Indian Head test site, but decided to end the trial in 2001 after concerns were raised internally, adding, "We were just concerned that there might be a small chance that the seed might get mixed up ... if it's not there, it can't happen. We viewed it as an extremely low possibility but we were concerned about its potential impact, so we decided to terminate it."
Monsanto spokeswoman Trish Jordan was cited as saying the company supported the government's decision to stop testing in Indian Head, adding, "They wanted to make sure their breeder seed was clean. Basically (it's) an extra precaution." Arnold Taylor, president of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, was cited as saying he was pleased to hear the government ended the test, but hopes more locations will follow suit, adding, "To me it's irresponsible they're even doing these test plots, especially when the market -- consumers and customers -- said they don't want it."
Darrin Qualman with the National Farmers Union was cited as saying, "We just want to emphasize that it looks really, really unlikely that any contamination was there. But that's not the same as saying there's no concern or threat in the future. It doesn't appear at this time that they know enough to completely control this stuff."
SOME PESTICIDES MAY LEAD TO PARKINSON'S DISEASE: STUDY
March 25, 2003
At the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, researchers at Virginia Tech presented findings which showed that some insecticides may cause a cascade of chemical events in the brain that could lead to Parkinson's disease.
Jeffrey Bloomquist, a neurotoxicologist, was quoted as saying, "We found low-level exposures set in motion a process with an early onset that develops slowly and is persistent. More surprising is that high-level exposures resulted in few immediate effects that we could observe, but in the longer term there was a delayed effect."
EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDES IS LOWERED WHEN YOUNG CHILDREN GO ORGANIC
March 25, 2003
New York Times
Carol Kaesuk Yoon
Preschool children consume large quantities of fruits, juice and vegetables, especially relative to their small size, that many parents and researchers have wondered whether feeding children organic versus conventionally farmed produce makes any difference to their health.
The story says that a study reported recently by scientists at the University of Washington does not answer the question, but it did find that children fed predominantly organic produce and juice had only one-sixth the level of pesticide byproducts in their urine compared with children who ate conventionally farmed foods.
The study's data showed that an organic diet could, under some circumstances, decrease a child's pesticide exposure - as measured from byproducts in the urine - from above the amounts considered to be of negligible risk by the Environmental Protection Agency to levels below. But the researchers noted that the level of health risk, if any, posed by such exposure was unknown.
Cynthia Curl, a research scientist at the University of Washington and the lead author of the study, was quoted as saying, "People want to know, what does this really mean in terms of the safety of my kid? But we don't know. Nobody does."
The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institutes of Health.
Questions remain, in part, because researchers measured organophosphorus pesticide exposure by testing the level of the pesticides' metabolites, or breakdown products, in the children's urine. But there are many organophosphorus pesticides, including malathion and phosmet, that produce these metabolites and they can vary widely in toxicity. So the scientists can make only rough estimates of the relative risk associated with particular levels of pesticide metabolite in the urine.
But the real problem, scientists agree, is the lack of knowledge generally on the health risks - if they exist - of eating foods treated with pesticides. Though many people assume trace elements of pesticides in the diet must be dangerous, others say evidence of danger is sketchy, at best.
Dr. John Wargo, a specialist in risk analysis at Yale, was quoted as saying, "This justifies the importance of an organic diet, that organic foods lower a child's exposure. Industry people are saying show me the dead bodies. I don't want people gambling with my kids that way."
MODIFIED FOOD A RISK TO ENVIRONMENT
March 25, 2003
GABORONE -- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat was cited as saying yesterday that an investigation into the potential effects on humans of eating genetically modified foods has shown that they pose more risk to the environment than to humans or animals, adding, "The risks are more related to the impact of unintended release into the environment. The risks include unintended gene flow to other crop varieties, plants, animals and macro-organisms."
The story says that the investigation was undertaken by the SADC after many of its member states, although famine stricken, did not accept genetically modified organisms as part of food aid packages.
Greenpeace: Momentum Builds for New UN Peace Resolution
Demands for a UN emergency session are on the rise! 32,015 of you have written to UN Ambassadors around the world. You've sent 29,700 E-cards to friends, colleagues, fellow students, and family members. This is an extraordinary response in a very short time, and what do we want??? MORE!
Why? This is a crucial week. No nation has yet stepped forth to get the ball rolling, though many have expressed their support for the Uniting for Peace resolution, which would bring all nations of the General Assembly together to demand an end to the war. You can read more in the following story about how the Uniting for Peace resolution has stopped wars in progress in the past:
But the resolution needs even more support NOW, because the US has begun an active lobbying campaign against it.
According to Reuters, "The United States has launched a worldwide diplomatic drive to head off the calling of an emergency session..." The US has circulated angry letters to many countries stating that "Given the current highly charged atmosphere, the United States would regard a General Assembly session on Iraq as unhelpful and as directed against the United States."
If they're worried about this, it's a good sign.
Over the last week, the Russian Duma, the President of Indonesia, several European countries and the vast majority of African, Asian, and Latin American countries have expressed support for an emergency session.
UN General Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic said he thought it "very likely" that a special session would be called.
But we can't just leave this to "likely."
It's important that a Uniting for Peace resolution passes to show the overwhelming opposition of the world's countries to this war. and to make abundantly clear its illegality.
We're part of what the New York Times has called the "new second superpower": world opinion, and it is time our voices were listened to. Urge your UN Ambassador to support an emergency session under the Uniting for Peace resolution:
Send an E-card to your friends, colleagues, fellow students, and family asking them to take action too:
VISIT THE CYBERCENTRE
Please don't forget to visit the Greenpeace Cyberactivist Community at: