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GENET mail out 4/1999



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GENET-mail out 4/1999
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BRAZIL¹S STRUGGLE TO STAY GENTECH-FREE
On March 26, Monsanto do Brasil announced that it has obtained an injunction allowing it to proceed with its Roundup Ready soy crop. With this, Monsanto reacts on the new policy of the Brazilian State Grande do Sul notifying the company that it was operating irregularly. On April 16, the Agriculture Ministry of Brazil requested a complete suspension of all tests on the production of genetically engineered seeds and is accusing the National Biosecurity Technical Committee (CTNBio) of disrespecting seed production and agrotoxic use norms. The technical body of the Ministry also confirmed that fiscal agents from state police stations - as well as members of CTNBio itself - have already 'detected irregularities' in crops, but that no measure had been taken due to a lack of rules set out and auditing proceedings. On April 20, it was reported that CTNBio determined the destruction of genetically altered plants. CTNBio ordered that experiments with LibertyLink rice (resists the herbi!
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cide Liberty of the German Gene Giant AgrEvo) be burned, kept in conjunction by the Rio Grande do Sul company Irga and AgrEvo do Brasil. The experiment located in Irga headquarters (Cachoeirinha, Rio Grande do Sul) covers 1,225 square meters and will be set on fire for not having attended the compulsory biosecurity measures.
GENET-news April 1 (2-Plants: Monsanto stopped Brazil's marketing restictions for RR soybean seed)
GENET-news April 22 (2-Plants: Agricultural Ministry in Brazil calls for end of GE seed production)
GENET-news April 25 (2-Plants: Brazilian authorities burnt down AgrEvo's HR rice)

SOUTHERN EUROPE JOINS CRITICAL POSITION TOWARDS GE-CROPS
On April 1, the Greek Deputy Minister for the Environment Theodoros Koliopanos called for a European wide moratorium of all commercial releases of genetically modified organisms and of any trade in genetically engineered seeds. He announced that all seven experimental plantings of GMOs presently pending in Greece have been rejected. Presently the only member state of the EU where commercial releases of GMOs have taken place is Spain (20.000 ha Bt-maize). The leading Spanish farmers' group COAG, representing 200.000 farmers, is calling for a moratorium on GM planting and foods until possible health risks are fully investigated, Lluis Nomen, chief environment spokesman said on March 22. On March 25, Luis Marques, secretary general of the Portuguese Feed Compounders Association (IACA), said it was too early for IACA to take a position on GM foods as not enough information was available about possible long-term health risks. Jorge Morgado announced on April 7, that Burger King's f!
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ranchisee in Portugal has banned GM ingredients at its fast-food outlets because it was concerned over possible health risks.
GENET-news April 1 (2-Plants: Victory in Greece)
GENET-news April 6 (5-Animals: Portuguese animal feed industry's thoughts about GE feed)
GENET-news April 8 (7-Misc: Spanish farmers call for GE plant and food moratorium)
GENET-news April 13 (3-Food: Burger King Portugal franchisee bans GMOs)

SWISS AUTHORITIES REJECT DELIBERATE RELEASES OF GM-CORN AND -POTATOES
In the country's first ruling on genetically modified crops, Swiss authorities rejected applications to experimentally plant GM corn and potatoes. Concerns over antibiotic-resistant genes in the potatoes and possible pollination of non-modified corn crops lay behind the decision, Philippe Roch, director of the Federal Office for the Environment, said on April 16. It was the first such ruling since Swiss voters last year decisively rejected a proposal to impose tough restrictions on genetic engineering. The GE-potato should be tested for resistance towards the mildew fungi and contained a further resistant gene to antibiotics sometimes used in medicine. The permission for herbicide resistant GE-corn was denied because the risk of outcrossing couldn't be eliminated.
GENET-news April 22 (2-Plants: Swiss reject planting of first genetically altered crops)

NEW CONCERNS ABOUT ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE GENES
GM food could make dangerous diseases such as meningitis more difficult to treat, a government scientific advisor has warned. Microbiologist Dr John Heritage, UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, told on April 26: "We are talking about diseases that may be life threatening, like meningitis. Were these genes to get into bacteria from genetically modified plants it would make cases of disease more difficult to treat." He said the risk of spreading antibiotic resistance occured when cells were broken open during the processing of the food, releasing the modified DNA into the environment. The risk was magnified when processing created dust, because the dust would be breathed in. "This is where the meningitis worry comes because a significant minority of the population carry the bacteria that cause meningitis. That family of bacteria are very adept at taking up DNA from the environment and expressing it." The UK government and others recently opposed successfully the!
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 EU marketing applications of 2 Monsanto Bt-cotton varieties because of their resistance towards the important antibiotics streptomycin (and spectinomycin): "The principal use for streptomycin is as a second-line drug for the treatment of tuberculosis indicates that a major human pathogen is able to share genetic information with environmental bacteria. Again, the latest information in this area leads me to believe that we should adopt a precautionary approach to the use of this resistance marker in transgenic plants."
http://www.maff.gov.uk/food/novel/cotton.htm
GENET-news April 26 (Health Threats from Antibiotic-resistance)

INCREASING AWARENESS OF EUROPEAN CUSTOMERSΠDEMANDS IN THE US
In March, the US National Corn Growers Association warned farmers to "get the facts" before they plant GM seeds not approved in the European Union: "If the biotech hybrid you plant isn't approved for export, take the necessary steps to keep harvested grain in the domestic distribution chain and out of export channels." "There's consumer resistance in Europe," said Mike Yost, president of the Amerian Soybean Association. "They don't particularly care for genetically modified varieties." Jim Skiff, president of processing firm U.S. Soy, said: "The USDA is still trying to force the product on Europeans who don't want it." On April 14, the corn processor A.E. Staley & Co., said it would not buy some types of GM corn. Meanwhile, Monsanto fears that the European resistance could spill over into Canada. On April 14, 1999, Ray Mowling, president of Monsanto Canada said that one cannot ignore potential problems such as increasing calls for the labelling of GMO and non-GMO products. He !
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noted while there is a hold in Canada on regulations to label products that have been changed in composition or ingredients relative to the traditional commodities, there is growing pressure to implement such rules.
GENET-news April 1 (2-Plants: Get the facts before you plant GM seeds, US Corn Growers Association warns)
GENET-news April 19 (3-Food: Corn processor A.E.Staley will not buy non-EU-approved GE corn from US)
GENET-news April 20 (7-Misc: Monsanto fears that Canadians loose confidence in GMOs)



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