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2-Plants: More about Bt corn and pseudopregnancies in pigs



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Groups Reveal That USDA Sold Suspect Corn, Express Alarm About
        Where It May End Up
SOURCE: Friends of the Earth USA/Iowa Farmers Union
        http://www.foe.org/new/releases/0103iowa.html
DATE:   Jan 23, 2003

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Groups Reveal That USDA Sold Suspect Corn, Express Alarm About Where It
May End Up

DES MOINES, IOWA - A farm advocacy organization and an environmental
group today jointly released evidence that the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA) sold corn that one of its own researchers said
might be harmful to sows. The groups raised concern that the suspect corn
may end up being used as animal feed or even in grocery products. (Read
the letter sent to the USDA Jan. 23, 2003)

The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) obtained a
copy of a receipt for sale of 950 bushels of corn marketed by the
Commodities Credit Corporation on behalf of the USDA's Farm Services
Agency (FSA) and sold on Jan. 9 to G & R Grain and Feed Company of
Portsmouth, Iowa. The corn is suspected by the USDA's own researchers to
have caused severe reproductive problems in sows in Iowa.

"Why would USDA Secretary Veneman allow her Department to sell this corn
to a feed company before finishing a scientific investigation to learn if
it is harmful to pigs or other farm animals?" said IFU's Chris Peterson.
"We want sound science to avoid reproductive problems in Iowa's swine
herds. Independent hog farmers have told us that this problem could be
the final blow to their farms, forcing them out of business."

The IFU and FoE also delivered letters today to USDA Secretary Ann
Veneman and the Des Moines office of the FSA asking that the 950 bushels
already sold not be allowed to be used for food or feed, and requesting
that no more of the corn in the USDA's possession be sold while there are
unanswered questions about its safety. The groups also requested a
meeting with the FSA.

In a letter to the USDA last fall, FoE urgently appealed to Secretary
Veneman to obtain all of the corn to save it for science and to keep it
off the market as long as the source of the reproductive problems
remained unknown. The USDA wrote a response, dated Oct. 29, saying that
USDA "scientists are testing the corn to determine if it contains a novel
toxin that might impact swine production." The department has yet to
complete an investigation.

A lead researcher in the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Ames,
Iowa, wrote in August that, "one possible cause of this problem may be
the presence of an unanticipated, biologically active, chemical compound
within the corn" and that "animal reproduction studies, especially with
swine, will require considerable quantities of the suspect corn."
Researchers at Iowa State later released a statement saying that
genetically engineered Bt corn was not the cause of swine reproductive
failures experienced by numerous local farmers, but did not conclude
whether some other aspect of the corn was causing the problems.

By a twist of legal fate, the USDA has control of approximately 22,000
bushels of the corn through the FSA. The corn is part of the 2001 harvest
from the Rolling R Farm in Harlan, Iowa. It was used as collateral on a
loan to the operation once managed by farmer Jerry Rosman. USDA officials
in Washington, D.C., had directed that the corn not be sold as food or
feed. The FSA attempted in late 2002 to sell the corn for ethanol
production but it was rejected by Tall Corn Ethanol, a local processor. A
byproduct of ethanol is gluten, used in animal feed and human food,
raising concern that any problem with the corn might enter the food
chain. Now the FSA has sold part of the corn directly to a company that
handles animal feed and loads trains destined for export markets.

"When there is a mysterious problem that could affect the fate of
farmers, our health and the environment, we need answers - not attempts
to sweep it under the rug like the USDA has done," said FoE's Larry Bohlen.

The reproductive problem experienced by sows is called pseudopregnancy
and is characterized by false pregnancy, in which the animal exhibits the
signs of pregnancy for a full term but carries no fetus. The Rolling R
Farm is not the only operation to suffer the problem. According to IFU,
which has been running radio announcements and print ads with The Humane
Society of the United States in Farm News and Iowa Farmer Today (NE & NW
editions) to assess the extent of the problem, more than 20 farmers have
been impacted. The organizations continue to take calls from concerned
farmers, and they plan to put these farmers in touch with researchers
interested in solving the pregnancy problems.

###

More information on the swine pseudopregnancy problem, including an
exchange of letters with the USDA, may be found at www.foe.org/suspectcorn.


Contact:
Larry Bohlen, FoE, +1-202-270-1547
Chris Petersen, IFU, +1-641-357-4090
Lori Sokoloski, IFU, +1-712-368-2464


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  USDA Sale to Iowa Feed Mill of Corn Suspected of Causing
        Reproductive Problems in Sows
SOURCE: Friends of the Earth USA/Iowa Farmers Union
        http://www.foe.org/camps/comm/safefood/gefood/iowa/0103iowaltr.html
DATE:   Jan 23, 2003

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Please reply to: P.O. Box 8988 Ames, Iowa 50014


January 23, 2003

Ann M. Veneman
Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue
SW Washington DC 20250

Re: USDA Sale to Iowa Feed Mill of Corn Suspected of Causing Reproductive
Problems in Sows

Dear Secretary Veneman:

The enclosed receipt shows that the USDA sold 950 bushels of corn
suspected of causing severe reproductive failure in sows to a feed mill
in Iowa. The sale was made by the Commodities Credit Corporation on
behalf of USDA's Farm Services Agency to the G&R Grain and Feed Company
in Portsmouth, Iowa on January 9, 2003.

We are writing to ask why the USDA sold the corn, and to request that the
USDA prevent the corn it sold from being exported as food or used as
animal feed as long as the cause of reproductive failure in swine is
unresolved.

According to the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in a letter dated
August 5th, 2002, "One possible cause of this problem may be the presence
of an unanticipated, biologically active, chemical compound within the
corn." In a USDA letter addressed to Friends of the Earth by the Grain
Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration on October 29,
Administrator Donna Reifscheider, says USDA "scientists are testing the
corn to determine if it contains a novel toxin that might impact swine
production." The Department has yet to complete its investigation,
therefore it is irresponsible for the USDA to deliver any portion of the
remaining corn into food or feed channels. The corn could cause sow
reproductive problems for an unsuspecting farmer, or worse, be used for
human consumption.

The corn in question should be treated as potentially harmful, as long as
the potential presence of an unanticipated chemical compound remains. We
call on the USDA to refrain from selling any more of the suspect corn
until further research determines if the corn is harmful to animals or humans.

In September 2002, the USDA was contacted by Friends of the Earth in a
letter requesting that the Department purchase all the corn suspected of
causing reproductive problems in sows to save it for science and to keep
it from causing the same problems for other farmers. We have learned that
the USDA actually owns a substantial portion of the suspect corn on the
order of 22,000 bushels through the Farm Services Agency (FSA). We
understand that the FSA attempted in late 2002 to sell the corn for
ethanol production but it was rejected by Tall Corn Ethanol, an Iowa
processor. A byproduct of ethanol is gluten, used in animal feed and
human food, raising concern that any problem with the corn might enter
the food chain.

The USDA is in a position to keep the corn under its control out of food
and feed channels, yet appears to be actively trying to get rid of it.
The USDA should acquire all of the suspect corn to either keep it off the
market permanently if it is determined to be harmful, or to keep it off
the market until such time as additional testing determines that it is
not harmful.

We appreciate that you "intend to include the corn in question" in
pending research as noted in a USDA letter from October 1. In the same
August 5th, 2002 letter referenced above, the USDA's Agricultural
Research Service wrote that "animal reproduction studies, especially with
swine, will require considerable quantities of the suspect corn," yet
only a small amount on the order of 50 bushels has been acquired
according to farmer Jerry Rosman who formerly managed the Rolling R Farm
where the sow reproductive problems occurred. Please inform us if the
USDA plans to employ swine feeding studies using the suspect corn from
the Rolling R Farm. If the Department does not intend to do so, please
explain why.

Given the special mandate assigned the United States Department of
Agriculture to ensure the well-being of American agriculture and given
the unidentified threat that corn labeled "suspect" by your own research
service poses, it is appropriate for the Department to act immediately.
Solving this problem is of interest to everyone - farmers,
environmentalists, and people who care about animal welfare.

Additionally, pseudopregnancy is not an isolated problem. Our
organizations have been contacted by 20 farmers who have experienced
similar problems as those experienced on the Rolling R Farm, so a
determination of the cause of the problems is needed more than ever.

We ask that you respond promptly in writing to the inquiries we have made
above.

Sincerely,

Chris Petersen
Iowa Farmers Union

Larry Bohlen
Director, Health and Environment Programs
Friends of the Earth

cc:
Senator Cochran, Chairman Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee
Senator Harkin, Ranking Member, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
Committee
Senator Grassley
Representative Combest, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee
Representative Stenholm, Ranking Member, House Agriculture Committee
Members of the Iowa House Delegation: Leach, Nussle, Boswell, Latham and King
Governor Whitman, Administrator of EPA
Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Jr., Deputy Commissioner, Food & Drug Administration
Patty Judge, Secretary, Iowa Department of Agriculture
Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General