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GENET GE free Newsletter 02/05



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------------------------------ June 01, 2002 -----------------------------

                      GENET GE free Newsletter 02/05

- BROAD GE RESISTANCE IN THE UK
- EU DISCUSSION ON CO-EXISTENCE
- NORTH DAKOTA UNIVERSITY WHEAT BREEDERS AGAINST RR WHEAT
- NEW ZEALAND'S GREEN PARTY STICKS TO GE MORATORIUM
- SWISS NGOs REPORT ABOUT THEIR GE FREE COFFEE CAMPAIGN
- DNA PLANT TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION CLOSES DOWN
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BROAD GE RESISTANCE IN THE UK

Scotland's Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie has suffered a defeat at 
the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference over the issue of GM crop trials. 
Representatives voted by two to one against the continuation of the trials. 
Activist Judy Hayman told the conference that research into GM crops should 
be driven by the needs of society, not the need for profit. "There is no 
evidence that the Scottish public wants GM," she said. Delegate Liz Dick 
said: "We say we need scientific evidence, and the trials themselves are 
not genuine scientific evidence. The trials may be doing harm to organic 
farms." A poll held by Weeley parish council in the county of Essex 
resulted in 95 percent of votes being cast against the GE maize trials 
planned by the govern-ment. 1,300 ballot papers had been issued for the 
poll and the turnout had been 40 percent. "We are delighted with the high 
turnout in this ballot. The Government has said it will consult the public 
on the future of GM and people in Weeley have made their feelings very 
clear," said Lynne Priest, a campaigner who lives near the proposed test 
site. The Scottish National Party environment spokeswoman Fiona McLeod 
called on the Lib Dems to follow the line agreed at their party conference 
in late April. Ms McLeod's motion calls for "the precautionary principle" 
to be used, halting the field scale trials and restricting future testing 
to enclosed laboratories.

  May  2: Scottish Liberal Democrats voted against GE crop trials
  May  8: UK village takes on government over GE crop test
  May 29: Scottish parties call for moratorium on GE crop trials


EU DISCUSSION ON CO-EXISTENCE

The Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in Germany launched a petition "No GE 
contamination in seeds" (http://www.saveourseeds.org/) calling on EU 
officials to garantee that products which are not labelled as GM, do not 
contain GMOs either. A GE contamination threshold of seeds of 0,1% has to 
be included in the new EU regulations on GMOs. A secret EU study leaked to 
Green-peace states that all farmers would face high additional, in some 
cases unsustainable costs of production if genetically engineered (GE) 
crops were commercially grown on a large scale in Eu-rope. The study 
predicts that the situation would become particularly critical for organic 
far-ming of oilseed rape as well as for intensive production of 
conventional maize. The EU Commissi-on ordered the study on the co-
existence of GE and non-GE crops in May 2000 from the Institu-te for 
Prospective Technological Studies of the EU Joint Research Centre. In a 
letter to the Co-mission accompanying the study, the Director General of 
the EU Joint Research Centre, Barry McSweeney,  suggests that "(...) given 
the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the  re-port be kept for 
internal use within the Commission only." "The European Commission has 
tried to keep this study secret", said Lorenzo Consoli, Greenpeace EU 
policy advisor, "because it was afraid of its political implications. The 
question is, if the introduction of GE crops on a commer-cial scale in 
Europe increases costs of production for all farmers, makes them more 
dependent from the big seed companies, and require complicated and costly 
measures to avoid contamina-tion, why should we accept GE cultivation in 
the first place?"

  May 15: Petition "No GE contamination in seeds"
  May 16: Secret EU study shows GE crops add high costs...
  May 23: European Commission memo on co-existence


NORTH DAKOTA UNIVERSITY WHEAT BREEDERS AGAINST RR WHEAT

The administrators of the Carrington Research Extension Center and the 
North Central Rese-arch Extension Center of the North Dakota/USA State 
University decided against hosting nursery trials for RR wheat. Scientists, 
farmers and consumers have expressed concerns that GE varieties will 
contaminate pure seed stocks. "Wheat growers have noted the zero tolerance 
for GMO contamination [of wheat] in the international marketplace, so we 
decided not to host the nursery trials in 2002," said Jay Fisher, director 
of the North Central Research Extension Center. Todd Leake, a North Dakota 
wheat grower, emphasized that eliminating - not minimizing - gene flow is 
critical. Were foundation seed to be contaminated, then all seed in the 
state would in time carry GE traits.

  May 8: North Dakota research extension centers say 'No' to GE wheat trials


NEW ZEALAND'S GREEN PARTY STICKS TO GE MORATORIUM

Much of the market place is now free of genetic engineering, because some 
of the largest food companies in New Zealand have taken steps to remove GE 
from their products. "The few compa-nies remaining in the red section of 
the GE Free Food Guide are being left behind," said Annette Cotter, GE 
campaigner for Greenpeace on May 12. Some of the major shifts in the new GE 
Free Food Guide include: Unilever Australasia, Heinz Wattie's, Tegel and 
their feed distribution com-pany NRM, Arnotts, and Cerebos Greggs. On May 
22, the New Zealand Greens walked out of Par-liament before it voted into 
law a bill restricting GE testing to laboratories, but the moratorium will 
be automatically lifted in October next year unless it is extended. Outside 
Parliament, Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons set a challenge to all 
political parties to extend the mora-torium indefinitely or her party would 
refuse to enter into any coalition agreement. The anti-genetic engineering 
stance taken by the Green Party was "pathetic" and would not help New 
Zealand's image overseas, Prime Minister Helen Clark said: "We are about to 
have the strictest regime on genetic modification anywhere in the world. To 
go any further, frankly, would make us a laughing stock." Ms Fitzsimons 
disputed the claim it would make New Zealand a laughing stock, saying most 
GE research that would benefit the country was done in laboratories. She 
said extending the GE moratorium was "very little to ask".

  May 15: New Zealand's food companies go GE free
  May 23: New Zealand's Greens lay GE challenge to Labour (1) and (2)


SWISS NGOs REPORT ABOUT THEIR GE FREE COFFEE CAMPAIGN

On May 4, the Swiss NGOs Swissaid and Bern Declaration announced that some 
of Switzerland's biggest coffee importers  Coop, Migros, Moevenpick, 
Merkur and Starbucks  shared their con-cerns about the GM coffee and would 
not stock it. "Genetically modified crops don't only have environmental 
implications. They can also have an impact on the daily lives of thousands 
of cof-fee farmers, " says Francois Meienberg of the Bern Declaration. 
Their action, which followed a similar campaign by the British development 
organisation ActionAid, targeted one product in particular, developed by 
Integrated Coffee Technologies Inc. (ICTI), a Hawaii-based biotechno-logy 
firm. This plant has been engineered so that its natural ripening process 
has effectively be-en switched off. The berries only ripen when 
"reactivated" by a chemical spray. This would make large-scale mechanical 
harvesting possible. "We already have a terrible crisis in the coffee mar-
ket. The price has collapsed and most small farmers can't meet their costs 
any more, " says Bru-no Riesen, Swissaid's executive secretary and 
president of the May Havelaar Foundation.

  May  9: No grounds for GM coffee, Swiss retailers agree


DNA PLANT TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION CLOSES DOWN

On May 13, the Bionova Holding Corporation announced that it has begun 
closing down its wholly owned subsidiary DNA Plant Technology Corporation 
(DNAP). The focus of DNAP's research has been the production of transgenic 
plants which provide improved disease resistance for fruit and vegetable 
crops. In 1995, DNAP received US and Canadian approval for a delayed 
ripening GE tomato which was never marketed. Concerns about public 
acceptance of transgenic products in these markets have made producers 
reluctant to invest in the development of transgenic fruits and vegetables. 
Through its fresh produce growers and distribution companies, Bionova 
Holding is known for its premium Master's Touch(R) and FreshWorld Farms(R) 
brands. Bionova Holding Corporation is majority owned by Mexico's Savia, 
S.A. de C.V., whose subsidiaries include Seminis Vegetables Seeds, Inc., 
the largest developer, producer and marketer of vegetable seeds in the 
world.

  May 18: DNA Plant Technology Corporation stops GE fruit and vegetable 
research


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