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GENET mail out 8/99



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----------------------GENET-mail out 8/1999----------------------
  
                             July 23

- TERMINATOR PAPER OF SBSTTA SUBSTANTIALLY WEAKENED BY THE U.S.
- STOP "THE RELENTNESS MARCH OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIEY RIGHTS"
- RECENT MOVEMENTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL GE FOOD DISCUSSION
- U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ADDRESSES GE CONCERNS
- MORE DISILLUSIONING STUDIES ON GM CROP BENEFITS
- "GE-WILL-FIGHT-HUNGER" CAMPAIGN

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


TERMINATOR PAPER OF SBSTTA SUBSTANTIALLY WEAKENED BY THE U.S.

The terminator recommendation of the advisory body (SBSTTA) to
the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/4
9/Rev.1 at http://www.biodiv.org/sbstta4/docs-e.html) did not
meet the expectations of concerned countries and NGOs. The CBD
should "further study the implications of such technologies on
the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural genetic
resources and the range of agricultural production systems in
different countries, and identify relevant policy questions that
may need to be addressed". The U.S. - non-Party to the CBD -
threatened that those countries enacting moratoriums against
GURTs could face economic sanctions. Pat Mooney, executive
director of RAFI, summarized: "This year, the global market for
GM seeds will be dominated by six or seven companies that will
all have patents for terminator technology. GURTs challenge the
legal sovereignty of developing countries over their
biodiversity, a cornerstone of the CBD. If the Convention cannot
take a stand on Terminator, what can it do?".
  
  July 9: Terminator recommendation of SBSTTA / CBD
  July 12: SBSTTA/CBD bows to US pressure


STOP "THE RELENTNESS MARCH OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIEY RIGHTS"

This year UNDP's Annual Human Development Report focusses on
globalisation (http://www.undp.org/hdro/report.html) calling for
"putting precaution before profits". According to UNDP the "new
rules of globalization - privatization, liberalization and
tighter intellectual property rights - are shaping the path of
technology, creating new risks of marginalization and
vulnerability" for the people. The report points out that "the
proportion of public funding for research and development in
science and technology has fallen around the world, to be
replaced by private industry. Research and development has also
shifted away from developing countries. The trend has been
particularly strong in agriculture and biotechnology." 10 top
companies controll significant portions of the global markets in
technology products. The current patent systems support this
development: "Industrial countries hold 97% of all patents
worldwide."

  July 19: UNDP on "the relentness march of intellectual property
           rights"


RECENT MOVEMENTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL GE FOOD DISCUSSION

Canada: The Sierra Club started a GE food campaign. Activists in
  7 cities handed out pamphlets outside major grocery stores,
  urging consumers to learn more about genetically engineered
  foods and ask their grocers to remove the products from their
  shelves. At the very least, the grocery stores should ensure
  that the products are labelled.
Japan: Japan's government is heading for GE labelling
  regulations. In expectations of new markets with GE free food,
  soybean trader Marubeni announces to supply non-GMO soybeans to
  Japanese food processors through a segregation system. Marubeni
  and U.S. trader Archer Daniels Midland plan to import 31,000
  tonnes of non-GMO soybeans beginning with the next harvest in  
  September.
Malaysia: The National Consumer Protection Council has called for
  the ban on imports and sale of all GE-food products until it
  has been proven safe for consumption by an independent body.
  The council has suggested proper labelling of all the
  genetically engineered food.

  July 13: Canadian Sierra Club starts GM food labelling campaign
  July 16: Japan firms smell opportunity in non-GMO foods
  July 19: Japanese government plan to label GM products under
           fire; Malaysian consumer NGO calls for GE food ban


U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ADDRESSES GE CONCERNS

A recent GE speech of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Glickman
gained international interest because it names the hot questions.
But Glickman still propagates GE: "Science can help to create a
world where no one needs to go hungry, where developing nations
can become more food self-sufficient and thereby become freer and
more democratic". Some more quotations:
"... we cannot blindly embrace their [GE] benefits."
"The [regulatory] process must stay at arm's length from any
entity that has a vested interest in the outcome."
"The concept of labeling particular products for marketing
purposes is not a radical one. [...] it just means that consumers
are given this informed choice."
"One of my biggest concerns is what biotechnology has in store
for family farmers. Consolidation, industrialization and
proprietary research can create pitfalls for farmers. It
threatens to make them servants to bigger masters, rather than
masters of their own domains."
"Product development to date has enabled those who oppose this
technology to claim that all the talk about feeding the world is
simply cover for corporate profit-making."

  July 15: USDA Secretary's speech on GE politics


MORE DISILLUSIONING STUDIES ON GM CROP BENEFITS

Biotechnology Industry Organization: "An analysis of the
  historical pest infestation data suggests that three non paying
  years for Bt corn can be expected every decade."
  "For potatoes, the impacts of the introduction of cultivars
  that resist the Colorado potato beetle have been minor. [...]
  they [growers] need to apply the insecticide anyway to control
  the other pests." (http://www.bio.org/
Benbrook Consulting Services: "Farmers growing RR soybeans used 2
  to 5 times more herbicide measured in pounds applied per acre,
  [...] RR herbicide use exceeds the level on many farms using
  multitactic Integrated Weed Management systems by a factor of
  10 or more." (http://www.biotech-info.net/RR_yield_drag_98.pdf)
USDA - Economic Research Service: "Increases in adoption of
  herbicide-tolerant cotton were associated with significant
  increases in yields and variable profits, but were not
  associated with significant changes in herbicide use. [...]
  Increases in adoption of Bt cotton resistant to insects in the
  Southeast were associated with significant increases in yields
  and profits and decreased insecticide use."
  (http://www.econ.ag.gov/whatsnew/issues/gmo/)

  July 15: Study from US biotech industry shows benefits from Bt
           crops
  July 16: New U.S. study on yield drag in RR soybeans
  July 23: Another disillusioning U.S. study on GE crop benefits


"GE-WILL-FIGHT-HUNGER" CAMPAIGN

GE Scientists around the world - more or less indepent from the
GE industry - are increasingly concerned about the future of
their generously sponsored research activities. The recently
launched public defense of GE research focusses on a central line
of arguments:
- GE resistance can only be developed and afforded by rich,
  ignorant, well-fed Northerns,
- Northern GE resistance will hinder the development of GE crops
  for the South,
- Southern people will not receive the GE benefits and have to
  suffer from hunger even longer.

  July 21: GM crops will fight hunger (1) - (6)






-- 
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-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| GENET
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
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-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
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