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7-Misc: Korean Alliance for Bio-safety & ethics (KAB) calls for support



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* Rapid Developments In Korean Biotechnology *

In December 1998, a small group of Korean medical scientists led by Dr. 
Bo-Yeon Lee, at the Kyung-Hee Hospital, claimed that they successfully 
cloned an early human embryo, provoking considerable public outrage. It 
was only a few weeks after the Korean public had been bitterly shocked by 
the news that they might have unknowingly eaten foods containing 
Monsanto's Roundup Ready, herbicide-resistant genetically modified (GM) 
soybean.

Two months later, in February 1999, the Korean National Institute of 
Agricultural Science and Technology (NIAST), the government-funded 
research institute, announced that eight different kinds of GM crops, 
including Rice, Cayenne pepper, Chinese cabbage, Tobacco, and Tomato, 
were developed and planned to be put on the market by 2001. About at the 
same time, Prof. Woo-Suk Hwang of Seoul National University produced the 
first Korean genetically engineered mammal, Young Long, cloned from the 
somatic tissue of an adult cow.

And yet, with regard to bio-safety and ethics, Korea does not even have 
minimal regulations, either on the release of GMOs into the environment 
or on the use of human embryos. Although Monsanto's GM soybean has been 
imported and used for processed foods, there is no labelling policy in 
Korea (not to mention segregation). While the field trials of GM crops 
are currently being conducted, no government agency is monitoring these 
potentially hazardous experiments. Neither have there ever been any 
health, ecological, or societal risk assessments of GM technology.

 * Actions Against Inappropriate/Irresponsible Use of Biotechnology *

Since last year, the Korean Alliance for Bio-safety & ethics (KAB), a 
consortium of 12 leading environmental and consumer organizations in 
Korea, has been campaigning against the inappropriate/irresponsible use 
of biotechnology. KAB calls for a moratorium on all the applications of 
GM technology, including GM foods, human (embryo) and animal cloning, 
until their health, ecological, or ethical repercussions have been 
thoroughly examined and democratically debated and a proper regulatory 
regime is subsequently established.

Meanwhile, a group of young environmental activists and Korean students 
are organizing an independent action. They are planning to blockade the 
greenhouse where the NIAST's field trials are under way. The action is 
designed to protest against the NIAST's rush into GM crop developments 
while there is no safeguard regulation, and to expose its irresponsible 
release into the environment of GMOs. It is also intended to put pressure 
upon the government, demanding strict biosafety & ethics legislations.

Their protest is scheduled on March 5, and you can monitor the progress 
at URL: www.jinbo.net/~genaction_kr/

Your encouragement and support will be greatly appreciated. Some of the 
students and activists are likely to be arrested by the police. Please 
visit our web-page and send your message of solidarity to the following 
address.

Coordinators: HAN Jae-Kak : hanclk@mail.unesco.or.kr / Choe : 
choe@jinbo.net 


===================================================
-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| GENET
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-|
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| 
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email: genet@agoranet.be
===================================================

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