GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Fwd: Biotech foes boycott gene-altered U.S. corn, soya

Forwarded message:
From:	74250.735@CompuServe.COM (John Stauber)
To: (Rose & Ron)
Date: 96-10-07 21:45:05 EDT

--------------- Forwarded Story ---------------

Headline: Biotech foes boycott gene-altered U.S. corn, soya
Wire Service: RTna (Reuters North America)
Date: Mon, Oct 7, 1996

 Copyright 1996 Reuters Ltd.  All rights reserved.
The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole
in part, without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.
    By Charles Abbott
     WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Biotechnology foes announced a worldwide boycott
genetically engineered corn and soybeans Monday and targeted 10 products that
ranged from Coca-Cola to McDonald's french fries.
     "We're going to put pressure on from the bottom up," boycott leader
Rifkin said, describing a grass-roots campaign to get grocers and school
and eventually their suppliers, to deny a market to bio-foods.
     EuroCommerce, a large European trade group, asked for labeling of
transgenic corn and soybeans so consumers could know what was in their food
decide whether to buy it. After this year's "mad cow" crisis, said
EuroCommerce's Heinrich Kroener, "we don't want another" food scandal.
     U.S. opponents used similar arguments -- consumers' right to know and
of unforeseen pitfalls -- at news conferences in Washington and Chicago to
support of their boycott.
     Genetically engineered corn and soybeans have been approved for sale in
United States. Officials say they are safe and there was no reason to require
special labels.
     The grain industry says it would be costly and impractical to try to
separately handle crops that are indistinguishable from traditional
     The Food and Drug Administration said its review of the cenetically
engineered corn and soybeans found no reason to doubt their safety. One food
industry group said Rifkin was "continuing to spread his weed-like
     "In short, they are telling us to shut up and eat our Frankenfoods,"
Foods Campaign director Ronnie Cummins said at a demonstration in front of
Chicago Board of Trade, the world's largest futures market.
     The Board of Trade said it would accept the genetically altered corn and
soybeans to satisfy its grain contracts.
     In the 15-nation European Union, gene-altered soybeans have been
for marketing but a decision has been delayed on corn.
     "I can't ask for a boycott, a total boycott (of U.S. soybeans)," Kroener
said, but warned that several major members of EuroCommerce would not buy
soybeans without assurance they would not receive genetically altered ones.
     Letters were sent to the companies making the 10 products targetted for
boycott, Rifkin said, asking them to pledge not to use the bio-engineered
versions of corn and soybeans.
     "We have not had response yet. It is still early," said Rifkin, an
independent consumer activist.
     Targeted by the boycott were Coca-Cola, Green Giant Harvest Burgers,
Crunch, Similac infant formula, McDonald's french fries, Kraft salad
Fleischmann's margarine, Fritos, Karo corn syrup and Quaker Oats corn meal.
     Corn and soybeans are two of the most important U.S. field crops and
planted on 144 million acres
 this year. The crops have myriad uses in food, livestock feed and industrial
     The genetically engineered soybeans involved in the dispute were altered
tolerate a weed-killer, Roundup, made by Monsanto. Ciba-Geigy developed corn
that produces a naturally occurring chemical to repel the European corn
borer, a
damaging pest.
     Critics say Roundup Ready soybeans, as the variety is called, would
in more pesticide use. The corn, they say, would squander a valuable
biopesticide because wide use would allow pests to become resistant to it.
     Monsanto says farmers will use less pesticide overall because they will
need separate chemicals for grasses and broadleaf weeds.
     To prevent insect resistance to biopesticides, farmers are advised to
"refuges" where unexposed pests could grow. They would breed with survivors
the biopesticides, which would prevent development of resistant strains.