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TITLE:  Monsanto¹s genetically modified milk ruled unsafe by the
        United Nations
SOURCE: PR Newswire
DATE:   August 18, 1999

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


Monsanto's genetically modified milk ruled unsafe by the United
Nations

CHICAGO, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today
by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor of Environmental Medicine,
University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago:

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the U.N. Food Safety Agency
representing 101 nations worldwide, has ruled unanimously in
favor of the 1993 European moratorium on Monsanto's genetically
engineered hormonal milk (rBGH). This unexpected ruling,
revealingly greeted by the U.S. press with deafening silence, is
a powerful blow against U.S. global trade policies which are
strongly influenced by powerful multi-national corporations, such
as Monsanto. The Codex Commission ruling has also forced the U.S.
to abandon its threats to challenge the European moratorium
before the World Trade Organization later this year.

As importantly, the ruling represents the first large scale
defeat of genetically modified foods on unarguable scientific
grounds, apart from ethical and ideological concerns.

Since the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of
unlabeled rBGH milk in February 1994, the U.S. has exerted
considerable pressure on Mexico and other trading partners to
approve rBGH in efforts to increase pressure on Europe through
the World Trade Organization. In this, they have been strongly
supported by reports from the Food and Agriculture/World Health
Organization's (FAO/WHO) Joint Expert Committees on Food
Additives (JECFA), including its latest September 1998 report,
which unequivocally absolved rBGH from any adverse veterinary and
public health effects.

However, these JECFA committees, besides others such as those
claiming the safety of meat from cattle treated with sex
hormones, operate under conditions of non-transparency and
conflicts of interest, and are predominantly staffed by unelected
and unaccountable U.S. and Canadian regulatory officials and
industry consultants with no expertise in public health,
preventive medicine and carcinogenesis. The 1998 JECFA report on
rBGH was then submitted to the Codex Committee on Residues of
Veterinary Drugs in Foods, chaired by FDA's Director for
Veterinary Medicine Dr. Stephen Sundloff who also played a
prominent role in the 1998 JECFA Committee.

The Codex Committee promptly rubber stamped JECFA's seal of
approval for rBGH with the confident expectation that this would
be subsequently endorsed by the parent Codex Commission. However,
the best laid plans of Monsanto and the FDA were aborted by an
unexpected turn of events. Bowing to growing pressure in 1998 by
Canadian advocacy groups, "dissident" government scientists and
the Senate Agriculture Committee. Health Canada convened expert
committees on veterinary and human safety under the auspices of
the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Royal College
of Physicians and Surgeons, respectively.

Based on conclusions on the adverse veterinary effects of rBGH,
particularly an increased incidence of mastitis, lameness and
reproductive problems, Health Canada reluctantly broke ranks with
the U.S. in January 1999, and issued a formal "notice of non-
compliance", disapproving future sales of rBGH.

Meanwhile, the European Commission had commissioned two
independent committees of internationally recognized experts to
undertake a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on
both the veterinary and public health effects of rBGH. The
veterinary committee fully confirmed and extended the Canadian
warnings and conclusions. The public health committee confirmed
earlier reports of excess levels of the naturally occurring
Insulin-like-Growth Factor One (IGF-1), including its highly
potent variants, in rBGH milk and concluded that these posed
major risks of cancer, particularly of the breast and prostate,
besides promoting the growth and invasiveness of cancer cells by
inhibiting their programmed self-destruction (apoptosis).

Faced with this latest well documented scientific evidence from
both Canada and Europe, the U.S. bowed to the inevitable and
failed to challenge the Codex ruling in support of the European
moratorium.

It is now 15 years since Monsanto embarked on a series of large
scale veterinary trials on rBGH all over the U.S., and sold milk
from these trials to an uninformed and unsuspecting public with
the full approval of the FDA. Since then, Monsanto and the FDA,
strongly supported by a network of indentured university
academics, aggressive lobbying by the National Dairy Council and
its well organized "hit squads" targeting rBGH opponents, and an
overwhelmingly uncritical media, have ignored or trivialized
substantial scientific evidence on the hazards of rBGH milk,
including a series of publications over the last decade in the
International Journal of Health Services, the most prestigious
international public health publication.

Also ignored by the media have been charges in 1981 by
Congressman John Conyers (then Chairman of the House Committee on
Government Operations), on the basis of a leaked confidential
Monsanto study revealing serious pathology in cows injected with
rBGH, that "Monsanto and the FDA have chosen to suppress and
manipulate animal health test data in efforts to approve
commercial use of rBGH".

These considerations reinforce growing concerns on the extreme
unreliability of Monsanto and other biotech industry claims of
the safety of genetically modified soy and other foods,
especially in the absence of comprehensive testing by independent
scientific experts, who should be funded by industry and not
consumers.

Contact:
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.
Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois
School of Public Health, Chicago
Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition
+1-312-996-2297

Web site: http://www.preventcancer.com/




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