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GENET mail out 03/99



----------------------GENET-mail out 03/2000---------------------
  
                        February 11, 2000

- CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOASAFETY ADOPTED
- REPORT ON DANGERS OF CROSSES BETWEEN FARMED AN  WILD SALMON
- PATENTS ON PLANTS - CONTROL OF SEEDS
- UK FIRST COUNTRY TO PATENT HUMAN CLONING
- THAI NGOs SET UP GM-FIGHTING FUND
- JAPANESE CONSUMER ORGANISATIONS REJECT PLANNED LABELLING
  REGIMES
- GE-CROP CRISIS IN THE U.S. IS GROWING

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


CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOASAFETY ADOPTED

On January 29, in the early morning, the Biosafety Protocol was
adopted. To read background informations and actual coverage of
the negotiations, check the 23 BIOSAFETY-mails GENET-news sent in
January and February. Until now, the CBD-Secretariat was not able
to deliver the text on its web page (www.biodiv.org). It can be
downloaded at e.g. www.greenpeace.org/~geneng or
biosafety.ihe.be. For a first analysis, please read GENET-mail
out 02_00.


REPORT ON DANGERS OF CROSSES BETWEEN FARMED AN  WILD SALMON

A report prepared for the meeting of Canada's advisory committee
on Atlantic salmon revealed that escaped fish from salmon farms
have damaged Canada's fragile stock of wild salmon by
interbreeding with them. The report comes shortly after a
statement by Canada's commissioner of aquaculture, that there is
no evidence farmed fish cause genetic disruption to wild Atlantic
salmon. The report notes that each local population of fish has
its own distinct genetic fingerprints, which allow salmon to
adapt to local conditions. Greenpeace argues the salmon are a
perfect example of the environmental dangers of GMOs. Greater
than the danger from simple farmed fish is the danger that some
day genetically engineered salmon will escape.

  Jan 28: Critical Canadian document on GE fish leaked


PATENTS ON PLANTS - CONTROL OF SEEDS

A recent patent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit determined that seeds, as well as the plants
grown from them, are patentable. According to the plaintiff
patents on plants "could make it impossible to use material for
breeding purposes," Some of the "miracle rices," developed in
Asia as a weapon against hunger, have parent strains that "came
from zillions of different countries." Getting licenses to
continue production would be prohibitively expensive if the
parent seeds were patented. Developers of those rice varieties
fear that adoption of exclusive intellectual property rights will
change forever long-cherished traditions that have seen rice
varieties shared freely not only among poor rice farmers but also
among nations. A deputy director general of IRRI, William
Padolina, said that "most countries are already putting in place
Plant Variety Protection and other patent laws that will meet the
minimum requirements of the WTO's TRIPs Agreement." But corporate
seed control is not only restricted to the main crops. The U.S.
company Seminis Vegetable Seeds has gained control of 19% of the
worldŒs fruit and vegetable seed market and provides the seeds
for 40% of all vegetables sold in the U.S.. Seminis works
together with Monsanto developing RR-lettuce and -tomatoes.

  Feb  3: US company Seminis gaining control over vegetable seed
          market
  Feb  4: US ruling supported patents on plants, Plant
          patents and their influence on international rice
          research


UK FIRST COUNTRY TO PATENT HUMAN CLONING

Britain last week became the first country in the world to grant
a patent covering cloned early-stage human embryos. The patent of
U.S. company Geron includes nonhuman mammals and human embryos in
the very early stage of development, when they consist of stem
cells that could develop into any sort of human tissue.

  Jan 28: Britain grants human embryo cloning patent


THAI NGOs SET UP GM-FIGHTING FUND

A"one-baht-each" fund will be set up by non-governmental
organisations to help environmental activists who face legal
charges in pursuing their fight against GM products. "Such a fund
is necessary since there is a growing tendency on the part of
government officials to fight back by taking a case to court,"
Daycha Siripatra, chairman of Technology for Rural and Ecological
Enrichment said. The fund would be available to people facing GM
related legal action. The setting up of the fund would give the
public an opportunity to participate in the fight against the
indiscriminate use and spread of GM products.

  Jan 27: Thai NGOs set up GE fighting fund


JAPANESE CONSUMER ORGANISATIONS REJECT PLANNED LABELLING REGIMES

Japanese consumer groups charged the government's current plans
for labelling GM foods are inadequate and urged the Health
Ministry to propose a law to close loopholes in the system.
"Labelling plans by the Agriculture Ministry are not sufficient
and are not acceptable to us," told Masae Wada, chairman of the
Housewives Association. The advisory committee, composed of 15
members representing academic, medical and consumer
organisations, will make proposals to the Health Ministry about
which foods should be labelled and how. Under new guidelines,
Japan will allow soybean products to be labeled as free of GM
ingredients even if as much as 5% of the soy used is gene
altered. No such percentage limit has been specified for foods
using GM corn.

  Feb  8: Japanese consumer organisations criticize labelling
          plans
  Feb 10: Japan caps content on GM-free labeled soy foods

GE-CROP CRISIS IN THE U.S. IS GROWING

Panelists speaking at the annual Purdue Science Forecast agreed
that agriculture is a very long way from a worldwide consensus on
GM technology. "We've stumbled so badly in Europe that certainly
that battle is lost for five to 10 years," said Ron Meeusen,
senior vice president of research plant genetics and
biotechnology at Dow AgroSciences. U.S. advocacy of GM technology
has focused solely on the "safety" of GM foods and of the science
that makes them possible, despite other concerns worldwide that
are cultural, environmental or historical and have little to do
with the safety of the food itself. A January poll conducted by
Reuters at the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau
Federation, the nation's largest farm group with more than 4m
members, showed farmers retreating from GMs: farmers plan to cut
GM maize plantings by 23%, GM soyabeans by 15% and GM cotton by
26%. Snack maker Frito-Lay is telling its suppliers that it will
stop using GM corn: "There is some consumer concern out there. We
felt at this time it's appropriate to ask our growers not to sell
us genetically altered corn." Wall Street investors lost
confidence in agricultural biotechnology. It became apparent that
the public rationale for promoting GM foods -- that such foods
would "feed the world" -- was based on wishful thinking, not
economics. To counteract the increasing number of GE-field
destructions in the US, the FBI organizes a GE-ecoterrorism
conference in California. Motto: "Domestic crime targeting
biotechnology is the emerging anti-technology crime of the new
millennium."

  Jan 27: European GM markets lost forever US fear
  Feb  3: US snack maker Frito-Lay banned GE corn
  Feb  8: US GE-farmers face severe socio-economic risks, FBI
          announces GE-ecoterrorism conference in California
  Feb 10: Analysis of GE situation in the US



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