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GENET GE free Newsletter 02/12



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------------------------------ January 01, 2003 -------------------------

                      GENET GE free Newsletter 02/12

- SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT REJECT GE PLANT MORATORIUM
- PAKISTAN NGOs ASK COURT TO STOP GE SOY IMPORTS
- WASHINGTON STATE REGULATION BAN TRANSGENIC FISH
- BRAZIL'S PRESIDENT URGED TO KEEP THE COUNTRY FREE OF GE SOY
- FRANCE DOES NOT EXPECT END OF GE CROP MORATORIUM IN 2003
- SWISS ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY ALLOWS GE WHEAT FIELD TRIALS
- SUCCESSES OF MODERN AND TRADITIONAL NON-GE CROP VARIETIES
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SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT REJECT GE PLANT MORATORIUM

A push for a five year moratorium on GE crops in South Australia has been
defeated in the South Australian State Parliament. Democrats Primary
Industries Spokesman Ian Gilfillan says this isn't the end of the debate
on GMOs. "It just seems to me so tragic that almost by haphazard
indifference Labor and Liberal are letting South Australia get sucked
into being a GM-producing state, I think it's a tragedy, and I'm not
prepared to take it lying down. The battle must go on." Tasmania's
Primary Industries, Water and Environment Minister Bryan Green said a 30
ha poppy crop near Cressy and a 50 ha lupin crop also in the Northern
Midlands would to be destroyed at the request of the Commonwealth gene
technology regulator, after GE canola plants from a former field trial,
with an average density of about four plants a hectare were found Mr
Green said these were isolated incidents and illustrated the success of
the moratorium system and the role of the regulator. However, he admitted
these were not the only former trial sites where regrowth was occurring.

  Dec  4: South Australian parliament defeated GM moratorium
  Dec  6: Tasmanian government orders crops destruction after GE canola
regrowth


PAKISTAN NGOs ASK COURT TO STOP GE SOY IMPORTS

On Nov 19, the Network for Consumer Protection and the Sungi Development
Foundation in Pakistan have sought the Lahore High Court, the highest
court in the Punjab province, order to stay the import and sale of GE
soybeans. The groups are pleading with the court to impose a moratorium
on the import and sale of all GE seeds and foods, until the government
formally establishes a regulatory framework to independently ascertain
the safety aspects of such products. "To deal with this new range of food
products, the country, on the one hand, requires a regulatory framework
with regard to their safety aspects, and on the other, a law binding
exporters to declare whether their products are genetically engineered,"
said intellectual property rights lawyer Hafiz Abdul Aziz. "This would
enable people to exercise their consumer rights to choose between GE food
and naturally produced ones," said Aziz, who teaches at the Islamabad-
based International Islamic University. The court set a hearing date for
Dec 12. Pakistan is importing the soybean as part of a 467 million U.S.
dollar refund that Islamabad paid in advance to the United States in the
late eighties for the purchase of 28 F-16 fighter aircraft.

  Dec  6: Pakistan food rights groups file complaint against GE soy imports


WASHINGTON STATE REGULATION BAN TRANSGENIC FISH

On Dec 7, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission voted
for new fish farm regulations, including an amendment that provides a
permanent ban on transgenic fish. The Commission agreed that until the
proponents could demonstrate that transgenic fish are both necessary and
safe, they should not be allowed in Washington waters.

  Dec 13: Washington State (U.S.) banned GE fish


BRAZIL'S PRESIDENT URGED TO KEEP THE COUNTRY FREE OF GE SOY

Brazilian environmental groups are urging President-elect Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva to stand firm against what they say is pressure to relax a
ban on transgenic crops in return for food aid. They allege that a recent
offer by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich to support
Lula's campaign to eradicate hunger in Brazil may have secret strings
attached, following lobbying from U.S. companies. "It's an ingenuous
attempt by U.S. multinationals to get GM (genetically modified) foods
accepted in Brazil," said Mariana Paoli, a genetic engineering campaigner
at Greenpeace. Monsanto has denied it is leveraging aid for Lula's "Zero
Hunger" program for access to Brazil's vast market. "There's no link
between Zero Hunger and transgenic crops," said Lucio Mocsanyi, Monsanto
Brazil's Sao Paulo-based communications director. U.S. officials in
Brazil declined comment on a possible trade-off between support for Zero
Hunger and ending the GM ban.

  Dec 17: Brazil's Lula urged to resist pressure on GM crops


FRANCE DOES NOT EXPECT END OF GE CROP MORATORIUM IN 2003

On Dec 18, the French Environment Minister Roselyne Bachelot told the
French National Assembly that the government will not back the lifting of
an effective ban by the EU on new GE crops until new labelling and
traceability laws are in place: "We are going to transpose (into national
legislation) the EU law in a few months. The Parliament will have to pass
the two new regulations and there will be all kinds of procedures. ...
Then, and only then, will be able to envisage a lifting of the moratorium
(on new GM crops), which brings us very likely to the end of 2003." Last
week a study commissioned by the French government urged the EU to end
its ban on GMOs (genetically modified organisms), finding no proof of
health or environmental risks. French Research Minister Claudie Haignere
said the report was "as a whole very reassuring about the safety of GMOs"
but did not say it justified an end to the ban.

  Dec 18: France does not expect ending of GM ban in 2003


SWISS ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY ALLOWS GE WHEAT FIELD TRIALS

The Swiss environment agency has given the green light for outdoor tests
of GE wheat. However, the agency imposed a series of safety conditions
for such trials which will be carried out by scientists at Zürich's
Federal Institute of Technology. The move comes after the environment
minister, Moritz Leuenberger, in September ordered a review of an initial
negative decision in 2001, saying such tests were in line with current laws.

  Dec 27: Swiss environment agency allows GE wheat trials


SUCCESSES OF MODERN AND TRADITIONAL NON-GE CROP VARIETIES

Eastern Canadian producers can now benefit from a new wheat cultivar with
increased tolerance to Fusarium head blight, a fungal disease which has
cost the Canadian agri-food industry hundreds of millions of dollars. The
new line named "Wonder", a soft red winter wheat often used for pastries,
exhibits nearly four-times fewer mycotoxins when exposed to the fungus,
than other wheat varieties on the market. The level of mycotoxins present
in wheat can greatly affect yields, as well as grade and market value.
"Wonder is a major step forward in the battle against Fusarium and a good
example of the type of innovation that can be achieved when government
and industry work together," said Dr. Pandeya of the Eastern Cereal and
Oilseed Re-search Centre. "To our knowledge Wonder is the first Fusarium-
tolerant pastry wheat on the market," said Henry Olechowski, research
director with Hyland Seeds.
Indian environmentalists focus on the numerous well-adapted farmers' rice
varieties. Making genetic engineering seem like a laggard technology are
the indigenous varieties that can withstand the severest of climatic
conditions. Sample this: West Bengal alone grows 78 varieties of rice
that are suited to dry conditions, according to a 'Register' prepared by
the NGO Navdanya as part of its movement to fight for farmers' rights on
seeds. "We have, along with farmers communities in nine states, collated
the varieties over a 15-year period to create awareness about the
varieties and to stress on the need to conserve them", says Vandana Shiva
of Navdanya. As for resistance to salinity, what tougher test for rice
than to be grown in the salt-rich mangrove lands of West Bengal. There
are three varieties grown in the tidal waters of the mangrove area, which
can bear up to 14 per cent salinity.
A hybrid bell pepper, developed by plant pathologist Judy A. Thies and
geneticist Richard L. Fery, shows that nematode-resistant bell pepper
hybrids can be developed by crossing a resistant, open-pollinated bell
pepper type with varieties lacking the key resistance gene but possessing
other positive characteristics such as large fruits or resistance to
disease. The hybrid marks the latest success from ARS research in
nematode-resistant bell peppers at the Charleston laboratory. Progress
with nematode-resistant crop varieties is significant because the soil
fumigant methyl bromide, the primary control method now used to combat
the parasites, is scheduled to be banned in 2005 because of its negative
effects on the ozone layer.

  Nov 22: Non-GE fusarium-tolerant wheat developed in Canada
  Dec 20: Traditional drought resistant rice varieties in India
          Non-GE nematode resistant pepper developed in the U.S.