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GENET GE free Newsletter 03/02



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------------------------------ March 01, 2003 ---------------------------

                      GENET GE free Newsletter 03/02

- UPDATE ON GE-FREE NEWS FROM THAILAND & PHILIPPINES & CHINA
- BRAZILIAN COURT CASE ON GE SOY DELAYED AGAIN
- UPDATE ON UK GE-FREE ACTIVITIES
- UPDATE ON AUSTRALIAN GE-FREE ACTIVITIES
- UPDATE ON U.S. GE-FREE ACTIVITIES
- GE WHEAT LIABILITY BILLS FAIL IN THREE U.S. STATES
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UPDATE ON GE-FREE NEWS FROM THAILAND & PHILIPPINES & CHINA

On Feb 6, the Thai Agriculture Ministry's biosafety committee relaxed the
ban on GE crop field trials. Witoon Lianchamroon, a member of the
committee drafting a biosafety bill and director of Biothai, an NGO
working on biodiversity, said relaxing the ban would enable the
department to plant GE crops in open fields under strict rules to prevent
dispersal of GE plants, which could invade native plants. "Planting of
large-scale GM crops is still banned," said Mr Witoon. On Feb 24, Biothai
called on the cabinet to maintain the  ban on GE crop field trials on
open farms. "GM crop field trials are acceptable only at the Agriculture
Department's experimental fields," said Mr Witoon. "Environmentalists are
also worried about the United States' intense promotion of GMOs in the
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum." On Feb 27, Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra announced: "We will allow field tests of GMOs, but the
government still bans GMO products from being sold for commercial
purposes." On Feb 9, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal reported that
the commercialisation of Bt-corn was discussed in the 86th Plenary
Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The
Conference is asking President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to postpone
authorizing Bt-corn. On Feb 13, China's Agriculture Ministry announced
plans to develop its northeast into the world's largest producer of non-
GE soybeans: "The aim is that by 2007, output of high oil crops ... would
be increased distinctly. Imports of high oil content soybeans would be
controlled at a rational level."

  Feb 11: Thai Agriculture Department plans GE crop field trials
          Philippine Catholic Bishops Conference asks President to halt
Bt-corn
  Feb 14: China aims to be top global non-GMO soybean grower
  Feb 27: Thai NGO argues against lifting the moratorium on GE crop trials
  Feb 28: Thailand to allow GMO field tests


BRAZILIAN COURT CASE ON GE SOY DELAYED AGAIN

On Feb 4, Environment Minister Marina Silva requested a Federal Regional
Court case ruling on GMOs should be suspended as the new government of
President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva needed more time to reexamine the
issue. On Feb 13, the Court rejected the request, federal judge Selene
Maria de Almeida said: "There is no legal provision...to suspend judgment
in the middle of the process." But despite this the case will be delayed:
"There's no precise date for the ruling," the spokeswoman for the federal
regional court in Brasilia said. A week later, the Brazilian government
set up a working group to stake out a consistent position on GE products
in an effort to reconcile the divergent pressures from environmentalists,
scientists and the international business community within one month. One
of the problems for which the group must find a solution is the expanding
illegal cultivation of genetically modified soy in southern Brazil. The
controversy of the old Government continues, with the Ministry of
Environment opposed to the introduction of GMOs and the Ministry of
Agriculture championing GE crops.

  Feb 17: Further delay in Brazil GMO ruling
  Feb 27: Brazil government sets up working group to discuss GE policy


UPDATE ON UK GE-FREE ACTIVITIES

The UK Small Farms Association (SFA) urges the Government to apply the
precautionary principle and conduct research to get a more detailed
understanding of the effect of GE crops before seriously considering
their introduction. SFA calls upon local authorities to uphold the GE-
free status of the UK. On Feb 13, South Hams District (South Devon)
recognised the importance of getting a GE-free status, claiming the move
was necessary for local economy and tourism. "This council declares that
the district of South Hams will be kept free of genetically modified
crops and GM food and feed." On Feb 18, the Lake District National Park
National authority undertook the first steps towards trying to win GE
free status for one of the most beautiful landscapes in England. Under a
new EU directive, the Commission can exempt areas from the growing of any
particular GE crop if there are good reasons for doing so.

  Feb  3: UK Small Farms Association says "no" to GE crops
  Feb 14: South Hams District (UK) declares itself a GE-free zone
  Feb 19: Lake District National Park (UK) seeks GE free status


UPDATE ON AUSTRALIAN GE-FREE ACTIVITIES

The Network of Concerned Farmers appealed to state governments to ban GE
canola. Spokesman Scott Kinnear said the 5m buffer zone is a complete
joke. "There's very good evidence, including Australian research, showing
contamination could go up to three kilometres and even evidence on
Monsanto's own website showing 1 per cent contamination at 130 metres and
2 percent at 50 metres distance," Mr Kinnear said. The Western Australian
Farmers Federation says grain handling systems in Australia are not ready
to handle GE material. The comments follow a revelation that imported US
corn, some of it GE, spilled into a storage of Australian wheat destined
for export. On Feb 25, Western Australia discussed legislation to create
GE free areas. The new legislation would ensure the current moratorium
position was protected while State Parliament considered the full Western
Australian Gene technology Bill 2001 and the Gene Technology Amendment
Bill. On Feb 27, Tasmania extended its ban on GE crops for five years.

  Feb  4: Australian farmers ask states to put GM canola on ice
  Feb 18: Western Australian Farmers Federation airs GM crop handling concerns
  Feb 27: Western Australia assesses GM-free zoning
  Feb 28: Tasmania (Australia) bans GE crops until 2008


UPDATE ON U.S. GE-FREE ACTIVITIES

On Hawai'i legislation has been proposed to impose a moratorium on GE
coffee until a permit process has been developed. On Feb 7, the
California Fish and Game Commission allowed the production of GE fish.
Last year, the Commission rejected of a proposal to make California
prohibit the release of GE fish into public waterways. On Feb 11, the
Boulder County commissioners allowd farmers to grow GE corn on county
open space. But bowing to public concerns, the commissioners agreed that
neighboring growers of conventional crops can demand a 150-foot buffer
zone to ensure that GE corn does not deleteriously affect neighbors'
corn, particularly organic corn. The same week, Degussa Texturant Systems
announced that its plant in Decatur has been awarded Cert-ID non-GMO
system certification for its lecithin production system. The National
Family Farm Coalition published a resolution that demands a suspension of
releases and government approvals of GE seeds and agriculture products
because GE agricultural products were released on the market without a
fair and open process to assess the risks on human health and the
environment or the social and economic risks to farmers and rural communities.

  Feb  4: Hawaii files bill on GE coffee moratorium
  Feb 13: Boulder County (USA) allows GE corn trials
  Feb 14: California (USA) sets rules for GE fish
  Feb 17: Boulder County (USA) adopts "good neighbor" protocol on growing
GE maize
          Degussa obtains non-GMO certification in the U.S.
  Feb 18: U.S. family farmer declaration on genetic engineering in agriculture


GE WHEAT LIABILITY BILLS FAIL IN THREE U.S. STATES

Montana's bills SB266 and 244 would ensure farmers restitution if their
wheat was contaminated with GE wheat. Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and
Korea buy 93% of Montana's wheat and will not accept GE wheat. Iowa State
University ag economist Bob Wisner, in testimony to the Montana
legislature, said if GE wheat is introduced commercially into North
Dakota, the price of spring wheat could drop by about one-third. The
Senate Agriculture Committee killed the two bills on Feb 24. Advocates of
tougher oversight of GE wheat in North Dakota lost two legal initiatives
on Feb 6, to put Monsanto Co. on the hook for contamination damages. On
Feb 13, South Dakota Senate Agriculture Committee killed the bill
SB214 5-4, set up to regulate GE wheat. "It is a market issue,"
Agriculture Secretary Larry Gabriel said. On Feb 26, the Council of
Canadians, the National Farmers' Union, the Saskatchewan Organic
Directorate, and the Parkland Institute started a series of 11 public
meetings against GE wheat across the three Canadian Prairie provinces.
The U.S. wheat industry is speaking with one voice on GE wheat. "Our
recommendation is to go slowly," said Len Hefflich, director of technical
services for George Weston Bakeries of New York. "The market is not ready
for GM wheat."

  Feb 10: News on Montana (USA) and North Dakota (USA) GE wheat bills
  Feb 14: U.S. industry urges slow approach to GM wheat
  Feb 20: Montana (USA) debates GE wheat liability bill
  Feb 26: Canadian NGOs start anti-GE wheat tour
  Feb 27: Montana's (USA) GE wheat bills die in committee