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GE -news catch up 13th August

1) Dear Friends, We have a GMO diary of events page which may be visited at:
If anyone has any events to be added please send in to
3) The Independent (London) August  12, 1999
>  BYLINE: Kate Watson-Smyth  
4) 08/12  TALES OF THE TAPE: Monsanto Stock Stuck In A Rut By Desiree J.
5)INTERVIEW-US farm group chief slams EU on GM foods - August 11, 1999
6) US Wants TRIPS Off Seattle Agenda - (Washington Trade Daily, August 5,
7) Monsanto apologises over controversial GM food ads - Birmingham Post -
8) Foes Urge Curb On Planting Of Altered Corn Ask For Proof That Butterflies,
Moths Are Not In Danger - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
9) Major international Agbiotech symposium - London Nov 14-16
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 18:53:47 +0100
10) NZ organic farming in for boost - by Howard Keene - The Press, 11 August
12) Wanted, A New Definition of Farmers  By Devinder Sharma
13) Financial Times 5th August 1999 - Science's secret garden.
14) ENDS Environment Daily - Monday 9 August 1999 -
15) Sask. farmer sues Monsanto for $10 million - WebPosted Thu Aug 12 07:22:27
16) (From: The Economic Times, New Delhi, Aug 11) - India should present a
at the WTO for excluding traditional medicines from the ambit of patenting,
says Biswajit Dhar
17) For Immediate Release - Tuesday 10th August 1999 ASA RULES THAT MONSTANTO
18) Biotechnology a key to world food supply - UN - AUSTRALIA: August 10, 1999
19) EU postpones vote on new genetically modified crops - EU: August 10, 1999
Monsanto Press Release

>  America's crops may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks through the
> use of
> biotechnology, and federal agencies are preparing to assess the
> possible
> risks to human health and the U.S. food supply. Larry Madden, a
> professor of
>  plant pathology at Ohio State University, says experts need to begin
> identifying which pathogens would pose the greatest threat to American
> agriculture if used by bioterrorists. The concern is that a disease
> causing
> pathogen would devastate yields or contaminate the food supply.
> Agriculture
> and the economy as a whole would be hurt. People could get sick or go
> hungry. Speaking Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American
> Phytopathological Society and Canadian Phytopathological Society,
> Madden
> said, "The idea is if we can know which pathogens are most likely to
> be
> used, those are the ones that regulators can look out for." A pathogen
> could pose a risk if it is easily produced, would survive and spread
> in
> the
> U.S., and would cause extensive damage. Taken together, Madden said,
> the
> factors can be used to compile a "most unwanted" list of plant
> pathogens.
> At a recent workshop in Washington D.C., government officials and
> scientists including Madden looked at ways to assess plant pathogens
> and
> their potential use in bioterrorist attacks. A formal arrangement for
> assessing pathogens, involving the Defense Intelligence Agency and the
> U.S.
> Department of Agriculture, is in the works, Madden said.
3) The Independent (London) August  12, 1999
>  BYLINE: Kate Watson-Smyth  BODY: INTENSIVE  FARMING methods have led
> to the
>  disappearance of millions of birds over the  past 20 years, according
> to a
> report in the science magazine Nature. Up to  10 million breeding
> pairs of
>  10 species of farmland birds, including the  skylark, linnet,
> yellowhammer
> and lapwing, have disappeared as the landscape changes to  accommodate
> more
>  and more crops. A census by the British Trust for  Ornithology found
> that
>  116 species of farmland birds, one-fifth of all European species, are
>  at risk. It also found that 13 species living exclusively in
> farmland, such as the skylark and corn bunting, declined by an
> average of 30 per cent between 1968 and 1995.     Over the past
> 30 years, traditional mixed farms with small meadows bordered by
> hedgerows and pockets of marshy land have been removed to create
> bigger fieldsbetter adapted for heavy machinery. The land has
> been drained to increase crop capacity, with a single crop
> planted twice a year leaving no time for the land to lie fallow.
> This has destroyed the natural habitat of many species such as
> the linnet, which lives in hedges, the corn bunting, which nests
> on the ground, and the lapwing, a lover of marshy ground.
>     Although many conservationists agree  organic  farming can
> reverse the decline, the report said that much of the problem
> was caused by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has
> subsidised production, kept prices artificially high and created
> massive surpluses.
>     The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: "The CAP
> subsidies work against wildlife and the environment and farmers
> need to be encouraged to look after their fields. There are
> schemes which are currently being tested which will pay them to
> do that, but the most important factor is urgent reform of the
> CAP."
> The report said it was not yet possible to tell if the schemes
> that pay farmers to preserve the traditional landscape had
> encouraged wildlife to return: "There is no magic bullet with
> which to reverse the declines of a large suite of species. The
> most general prescription is to reverse the intensification of
> agriculture."
>     The report also calls for  genetically  modified foods to be
> thoroughly investigated before there is large-scale planting:
> "Whatever hazard GM crops might be thought to pose to the
> environment is painted on to a  biodiversity landscape that is
> already severely damaged by the intensification of agriculture."
>     The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: "We
> cannot start planting GM crops before we have looked at the
> impact they might have on wildlife and the environment."
>     A Tale of Decline 1972-1996
>     SKYLARK: DOWN 60% from 3.8 million pairs to 1.5 million
> YELLOWHAMMER: DOWN 60% from 2.2 million pairs to under 880,000
>     from 290,000 pairs to 170,000
>     from 57,000 pairs to 15,000
>     LINNET: DOWN 41%
>     from 780,000 pairs to 460,000
4) 08/12  TALES OF THE TAPE: Monsanto Stock Stuck In A Rut By Desiree J.
>  Hanford ST. LOUIS (Dow Jones)--What a difference a year makes.   Last
>  August, Monsanto Co.'s (MTC) stock was nearing its 52- week high as
> the
>  life-sciences company prepared to merge with American Home Products
> Corp.
>  (AHP).   The merger was called off last October, and Monsanto's stock
>  hasn't been the same since. The shares fell to a 52-week low of 33
> 3/4 two
>  days after the merger was canceled, down from the year-ago peak of 63
>  15/16. Since late May the stock has bumped along in the low 40s.
>  Monsanto's first-half earnings were better than expected - 20
> cents a share in the first quarter, 50 cents in the second, not
> including results of businesses it is selling. But beating
> expectations hasn't helped the stock.   "I think people are
> looking for a catalyst for the stock," said James Gribbell,
> manager of the Babson Growth Fund and DLB Growth Fund in Boston.
> "I think (Monsanto Chairman and Chief Executive Robert) Shapiro
> and management need more than just a decent quarter or two to
> recoup some of that shareholder value that was lost when the
> merger stopped." The Babson Growth and DLB Growth funds own
> about 500,000 shares of Monsanto.
>   Some think it might take a merger to light a fire under
> Monsanto's stock. The company is saddled with debt from a spree
> of buying seed companies which left it in hock for nearly $8
> billion, with a debt-to-capital ratio of 60%. Monsanto is
> carving away at its debt but finding a partner with cash on hand
> would accelerate the process.
>   Monsanto's G.D. Searle & Co. unit has a blockbuster drug in
> Celebrex, a medication for arthritis pain, and there are other
> promising drugs in its pipeline. But Searle is a small drug
> company up against giants like Merck & Co. (MRK); Searle would
> be helped by a merger with a company that has deeper pockets.
>   "Size in the pharmaceutical business is critical," said
> William Fiala, an analyst with Edward Jones in St. Louis.
> "Developing new drugs is extremely expensive." Fiala has a hold
> rating on Monsanto's stock and a 12-month price target of $42.
>               American Home: Still A Match
>   If Monsanto remains in both the agriculture and
> pharmaceuticals business, finding a merger partner could be
> tough. Few other companies are in both of those businesses.
>   A merger with American Home Products still makes sense to
> Gribbell, the fund manager and to James Wilbur, an analyst for
> Salomon Smith Barney in New York. The firm has a buy rating on
> the stock and a 12-month price target of $55. The combination
> still appeals because each company could capitalize on the
> strengths of the other, said Gribbell and Wilbur.
>   "Clearly, its agricultural assets would be valuable to someone
> like DuPont, and its drug assets to someone like Warner-Lambert,
> Pfizer or Merck," Gribbell said. "But American Home Products is
> the only company that we see that could merge with the entire
> company of Monsanto."
>   Monsanto has said it has no plans now to look for another
> merger partner, said a company spokeswoman. But, she said,
> mergers, alliances and ventures in the agricultural and
> pharmaceutical sectors are "inevitable" given the costs of
> research.
>   Monsanto's stock could get a boost if it simply spun off its
> Searle unit, and that would be more tax efficient than selling
> it. If Searle were spun off, it could be an attractive takeover
> candidate given the consolidation occurring in the drug industry
> and Searle's relatively small size.
>   Donald Carson, an analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., said
> Monsanto addressed concerns in July about its stock price, when
> it met with analysts in New York. In response to questions,
> Monsanto's chief financial officer, Gary L. Crittenden, told
> analysts that if the agricultural biotechnology story doesn't
> come to fruition as Monsanto expects it to, the company will re-
> evaluate its options.
>   In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, A. Nicholas
> Filippello, Monsanto's vice president of financial
> communications and chief economist, declined to be specific
> about what decision, if any, Monsanto might make and when one
> could be made. He said the company has taken several steps
> during the past several months to reduce costs and improve the
> company's focus on life sciences.   "Without trying to speculate
> what the next move is, I'd suggest there are still a number of
> options that Monsanto has," said Filippello.
>                Concerns Over Biotechnology
>   Monsanto's stock could also bounce back if concerns lessen
> over genetically engineered crops. U.S. consumers haven't been
> as vocal in their opposition to the idea of eating crops grown
> with the help of biotechnology as Europeans have been,
> especially the British. But fears of genetic tampering
> endangering consumers and the environment are real. Gerber
> Products Co. said it expects to stop using genetically modified
> corn and soybean products in its baby foods by the end of
> September. Gerber's parent company is Novartis AG (Z.NOV), of
> Switzerland,
>   Those sentiments have "significant repercussions" for
> Monsanto, said Fiala at Edward Jones. Monsanto has spent
> billions buying seed companies, and it needs European acceptance
> of biotechnology to help pay for those acquisitions, said Fiala.
> Their seeds are the mechanism for bringing the biotechnology to
> market.   "And there are repercussions in the U.S. market
> because farmers sell crops in Europe, and if they can't sell
> them, they're less likely to plant modified crops," Fiala said.
>   Carson at J.P. Morgan, who has a buy rating on Monsanto's
> stock and 12-month price target of $55, said the concern over
> genetically modified crops raises the question of "the
> sustainability of the growth rates" that Monsanto has projected
> for its agricultural biotechnology products.
>   Concerns about genetically engineered crops could help
> Monsanto's share price short-term though, by increasing the
> possibility that Monsanto will spin off its drug business,
> Carson said.
>   One way for Monsanto to address the concerns is to use
> biotechnology to add nutritional value to crops so consumers can
> see clear benefits from the crops that result. Fiala at Edward
> Jones said Monsanto is working on that, but DuPont Co. (DD) has
> the edge now. DuPont is expected to bring out in the next three
> to five years corn and soybeans that are higher in protein, said
> Fiala.   "It's easy for the environmentalists to resist ag-
> biotech when seed companies and farmers benefit, but it will be
> more difficult when consumers benefit," Fiala said.
>   Monsanto's stock would be helped if the company wins its
> appeal in a Brazilian court of a lower-court ruling in June that
> Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans can't be planted in Brazil
> this fall until environmental impact reviews are completed.
>   A ruling on the appeal is expected this month. If it is in
> Monsanto's favor, it would mean that all three major world
> soybean growers - Brazil, Argentina and the U.S. - would use
> Roundup Ready soybeans, said Carson, the J.P. Morgan analyst.
> That would make it more difficult and costly for other buyers to
> use other types of soybeans, he said.
>   Gribbell, the fund manager said he is willing to be patient
> with Monsanto. He has added to his positions in the last several
> weeks because he thinks the market is undervaluing the company's
> drug and agricultural businesses.   "I think there is some
> pressure to rebuild shareholder value through strong operating
> results for the next one to two years or potential
> merger/aquisition activity," he said. "We're upbeat about the
> company's future."
>    - Desiree J. Hanford; 314-588-8443;
> 08-12-99
>   02:00 PM
> Copyright 1999 Dow Jones & Co., Inc.  All rights reserved.
> =====================

5)INTERVIEW-US farm group chief slams EU on GM foods - August 11, 1999
NAPA, California, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge
Corporation : The head of the American Farm Bureau
Federation said Monday that Europe's reaction to
genetically modified (GM) foods has been irrational
and said no rules should be considered to restrict
their use in upcoming farm trade talks set for the end
of 1999.

"The European concern seems to me to be somewhat
irrational," Dean Kleckner, president of the American
Farm Bureau Federation, told Reuters in an interview
at the 16th annual Sugar Symposium here.

Proponents say it will be virtually impossible to feed
the world's population if it grows in a few decades to
10 billion people if GM foods are drummed out of the

"I don't think we're going to be able to handle that
without using technology and the best technology
today is GM," Kleckner said.

GM foods have proved controversial in Europe where it
has been dubbed by British tabloids as "Frankenstein
foods." Several demonstration plots to test GM plants
have been destroyed by environmental activists who
claim such food may contaminate the environment
and food supply.

The U.S. farm group chief doubts European
suggestions of labeling GM foods will work out either
because there would just be too many problems to be
caused by such a procedure.

"Labeling may be an answer but you're going to argue
a long time over what the label should say," he said.

Life sciences company Monsanto Co, which has taken
the brunt of the protests over GM foods, would have
probably done things differently in seeking approval
for genetically engineered food and seed products.

Agricultural scientists who came up with the food and
seed products "did not forsee the problem it turned
out to be," Kleckner added.

((--New York Commodity desk, 212-8591647))

[Copyright 1999, Reuters World News Service]

6) US Wants TRIPS Off Seattle Agenda - (Washington Trade Daily, August 5,
>  The United States wants intellectual property rights off the
> agenda for the upcoming new round of global trade talks (WTD,
> 8/3/99), a senior US trade official said yesterday.
> The WTO agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights -
> negotiated during the Uruguay Round of trade talks - has hardly taken
> effect, and has not done so for the majority of WTO developing
> countries. While improvements in the TRIPS agreement could be made,
> the official told an informal meeting of the Washington International
> Trade Association yesterday that there is a risk that new negotiations
> could lead to backsliding in the current agreement.
> Left out of the TRIPS agreement was patent protection  for "life
> forms", which is important to advanced countries like the United
> States. But the official noted that several developing countries
> have floated "nonpapers" in the WTO suggesting that there be a
> further extension of the phase-in period for patent and copyright
> protections contained in the Uruguay pact.
> TRIPS went into effect for industrial nations at the conclusion of the
> Round in 1995 but full implementation was delayed for developing
> nations - much to the chagrin of the United States - for an additional
> five years. Some least developed countries will have until 2002 to
> fall into line, the official noted.
> Aside from a simple extension of the phase-in period, several
> other developing countries are now suggesting that TRIPS take into
> account the effect of other international treaties - such as the
> controversial Biodiversity Treaty. There are also vague suggestions
> that IPR disciplines cover "indigenous knowledge" in developing
> countries, which the United States has not fully comprehended.
> The WTO TRIPS Council has much work to do without new duties, the
> official said. A five-year review of the agreement is supposed to be
> completed by the end of this year - which has yet to happen, he said.
> And by 2002, the TRIPS agreement calls for a full empirical study of
> the workings of the agreement. The United States prefers to see just
> what has been the effect of the pact on international patent and
> copyright protection and then decide if the changes are necessary, the
> officials insisted.
> Other developing countries also want to consider an expansion of
> "geographical indications" - normally applied to wine and
> distilled spirits - to cover such items as handicrafts and textile
> designs, the official said.
> The US official also expressed US disappointment with the lack of
> interest on the part of developing countries to take up offers of
> technical assistance from the United States and other nations to bring
> local patent and copyright laws and enforcement up to WTO standards.
7) Monsanto apologises over controversial GM food ads - Birmingham Post -
Biotechnology company [ Monsanto ] has been criticised by
advertising watchdogs over a campaign for genetically
modified foods in the UK.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld four complaints
against the series of full-page press advertisements displayed in June
last year which put forward
Monsanto's pro-GM views.

The authority received complaints nationwide from pressure groups opposed
to GM foods -
including the Soil Association, the Green Party, GeneWatch and Genetix
Food Alert - as well as
concerned individuals.

A Monsanto spokesman admitted that mistakes had been made.

"With our advertising campaign last year we intended to inform the public
of our opinion on the
subject of plant biotechnology.

"We did not take into account the difference in culture between the UK and
the USA in the way
this information was presented," he said.

Monsanto said it recognised that four complaints had been upheld against
it and "regretted the fact
these statements were not in strict conformity with the ASA code".

The first two complaints referred to the headlines: "We believe food
should be grown with less
pesticide" and "Food labelling. It has Monsanto's full backing" next to
pictures of GM potatoes
and tomatoes.

The complainants said the text implied that GM crops had been approved in
more than 20
countries - including the UK - when in fact neither product is licensed
for production in the UK.

In the third complaint, campaigners contested Monsanto's assertion that it
had tested GM foods
for 20 years. The ASA found evidence for only 16 years of testing.

On the fourth complaint the ASA found that Monsanto had not made it clear
that expert opinion
on GM technology was divided.

(Copyright 1999)

_____via IntellX_____
Publication Date: August 11, 1999
8) Foes Urge Curb On Planting Of Altered Corn Ask For Proof That Butterflies,
Moths Are Not In Danger - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Several environmental
organizations have asked the federal
government to restrict planting of insect-fighting, genetically
engineered corn until tests prove the corn doesn't harm
butterflies and moths.

Until then, the groups say the Environmental Protection
Agency should stop renewing approvals for biotech crops developed by St.
[ Monsanto Co. ] and other biotechnology firms.

Approvals for these crops designed to fight a major pest -- the European
corn borer -- expire in
2000 and 2001.

"The EPA is practicing a policy of 'Ready. Shoot. Aim,'" said Jane
Rissler, a member of the
Union of Concerned Scientists, one of six groups that sent a letter Aug.
10 to EPA Administrator
Carol Browner.

The groups were responding to a study, published May 20 in Nature
magazine, showing that
pollen from genetically engineered corn increased the death rate and cut
the growth rate of
Monarch butterfly larvae.

These laboratory tests were conducted by John E. Losey, an assistant
professor of entomology at
[ Cornell University ] . The tests involved dusting milkweed leaves, the
exclusive diet for the larvae,
with pollen from biotech corn and pollen from standard corn.

Losey said field tests would be necessary to determine the true impact of
the pollen on butterflies.
He said risks linked to the pollen must be matched against the risks of
treating corn fields with

But his research provoked an uproar among biotechnology critics,
politicians and consumers --
feeding anti-biotechnology sentiments overseas and in the United States.

"Our biggest concern is that EPA did not identify or resolve this problem
before this corn crop
was commercialized," said Rissler, of the Concerned Scientists.

The environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, say EPA should test
the bioengineered corn
to make sure it doesn't harm the Monarch butterfly or other "non-target"

The agency should prepare new guidelines for evaluating experimental-cro p
products, the groups said. They also want the EPA to convene a group of
scientists to evaluate
potential ecological problems posed by so-called BT crops. BT stands for
bacillus thuringiensis, a
common soil bacterium.

Scientists at Monsanto and other companies have taken genes from BT and
inserted them into
plants. The genes produce a toxin that wrecks the digestive system of
pests, such as the European
corn borer, that attack the plants. But the corn borers belong to the same
insect class, Lepidoptera,
as the Monarch butterfly.

Monsanto disclosed Wednesday that five biotech companies and two trade
associations are
spending more than $100,000 on field tests to address questions posed by
Losey's research. The
field tests will be conducted by academic researchers.

"We didn't think that Losey demonstrated anything new, but the industry
felt that the right thing
to do was to engage experts in field tests," said Eric Sachs, a Monsanto
corn geneticist. "We'll let
their reputations speak for themselves."

Monsanto is joined by Dow Chemical, Novartis, Pioneer Hi-Bred
International and AgrEvo as
well as trade groups representing the biotechnology and crop chemical

"This is all voluntary on our part," said Sachs, adding that EPA has been
informed of the field
tests. "It's part of our stewardship of the technology."

After Losey's article was published, the biotech companies quickly
assembled several crop and
insect experts to develop criteria for the field tests and to review

The companies approved five sets of research, whose results are expected
to be completed this

The academic scientists will look at the movement of BT corn pollen to
milkweed plants, the
location of milkweed plants in and around cornfields and the timing of
butterfly larvae
development versus the spreading of corn pollen.

They also will examine the larvae's feeding behavior - in Losey's lab
tests, the insects had no
choices - and they will gauge different strengths of BT toxins on the insects.

Monsanto's Sachs said his company carefully followed EPA's guidelines when
it originally asked
that its BT corn be approved. That included testing BT corn on many
beneficial insects - including
honey bees and green lacewings - found in cornfields. None was harmed.

Monsanto's research found that the BT in corn pollen was much less
effective in killing pests than
was the BT in corn plant leaves. It also showed that Monarch butterflies
prefer to lay their eggs in
milkweed plants outside corn fields. "We knew there could be a potential
impact if the monarchs
are exposed in a significant way," Sachs said. "We concluded that they
(Copyright 1999)
_____via IntellX_____
Publication Date: August 12, 1999
From: "NLP Wessex" <>
To: <Undisclosed.Recipients>
9) Major international Agbiotech symposium - London Nov 14-16
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 18:53:47 +0100

The tone of this indicates a pro-biotech approach but consumer organisations
and the Prince of Wales appear to be on the invitation list.


The Millennium Conference Centre, London, UK November 14-16, 1999

After more than 25 years of development, agricultural biotechnology is
finally ready to deliver products beyond those related to insect and
herbicide resistance, products that could significantly impact human
nutrition and health. At the very same time, mounting opposition to the use
of this technology is attracting considerable attention-particularly in
Europe. So far the debate has generated much heat, with little light shed on
the crucial issues of safety, ecological impact, agricultural utility, and
the effects of this technology on the global economy.

Nature Biotechnology's symposium Agbiotech 99: Biotechnology and World
Agriculture will attempt to address these issues by bringing together
decision makers from biotechnology and agricultural product companies,
government and regulatory agencies, NGOs, academia, consumer organizations,
and the press to discuss the science that drives this technology as well as
the political, economic, and social questions that surround its

The symposium begins with an overview session that will explore current
perspectives on agricultural biotechnology's potential impact on global
nutrition and economy. Environmental risks of transgenic crops will be
discussed as well.

It will then turn to developments in transgenic crops engineered for insect
and herbicide resistance, with an emphasis on what lessons have been learned
from past implementation, before moving on to cover the most promising new
technologies on the horizon.

The final presentations will examine advances in the improvement of crop
yield and traits, as well as the enhancement of nutrition. The symposium
will end with a roundtable discussion (speakers and delegates) of future
directions for agricultural biotechnology.

It is hoped that participants in the symposium will be able to move the
public debate about agricultural biotechnology forward through the open
discussion of the information presented at this meeting. As attendance will
be limited to 300, we encourage early application in order to be considered
for admission.

Speakers (in alphabetical order)

Ian T. Baldwin
Detlef Bartsch
Roger N. Beachy
Richard Braun*
Michelle Caboche
Marc Cantley
Nam Hai Chua
Gordon Conway*
George Coopland*
Willy de Greef
Philippe Desmarescaux
Jacques Diouf*
Geoffrey Duyk
Kim Kandar*
Richard Flavell
Robb Fraley
Michael Gale
Dan Glickman*
Luis R. Herrera Estrella
HRH, The Prince of Wales*
Brian Johnson
Pal Maliga
Sir Robert May
Ben Miflin
Susan McCouch
Denis J. Murphy
Ingo Potrykus
C. S. Prakash
John Ryals
Ismail Serageldin*
Pim Stemmer
Michael Sussman
Dirk Toet
Marc Van Montagu
Indra K. Vasil
Lothar Willmitzer
Marc Zabeau
* invited

Conference Agenda

Sunday November 14, 1999
Session I: Agricultural Biotechnology-Current Perspectives 2:00 PM
Cocktail hour 6:30 PM

Monday November 15, 1999
Continental Breakfast 7:00 AM
Session II: Insect and Herbicide Resistance -- Lessons Learned 8:30 AM
Lunch 12:30 PM
Session III: Enabling Technologies 2:30 PM
Wine and Cheese 6:00 PM

Tuesday November 16, 1999
Continental Breakfast 7:00 AM
Session IV: Improving Crop Yield and Traits 8:00 AM
Lunch 12:00 PM
Session V: Improving Human Health and Nutrition 1:30 PM
Roundtable Discussion: Impact of Agricultural Biotechology 4:30 PM

There will be several poster sessions during the symposium that will allow
delegates ample time to meet and discuss new developments. Poster abstracts
will be published in the symposium book distributed to the delegates.
Abstracts can be submitted for approval by attaching them to the online regi
stration form at <> or by
them as an attachment
to Please write "New Agbiotech Abstract" in the subject
line of the email. For further information, contact BioEdge.Net at the these

US: +1 800-737-1333
International phone: +1-402-996-9185
International fax: +1-973-429-8234
10) NZ organic farming in for boost - by Howard Keene - The Press, 11 August
Organic farming in New Zealand is about to take a leap forward with 
the development of a joint venture farm between Lincoln University 
and Heinz-Wattie Australasia Ltd. 
Both parties have been working for more than a year on the project, 
in which 57ha of university farm land will be converted from 
conventional to organic farming. 
While the Lincoln University Heinz-Wattie Organic Farm will be a 
commercial unit producing crops and stock, it is also hoped it will 
act as a catalyst to encourage more farmers to change over to organic 
Heinz-Wattie has developed a booming export business in organic 
vegetables over the last 10 years, but the number of growers in 
Canterbury has been static since 1992. The company exports all its 
organic produce. 
Steve Wratten, professor of ecology at Lincoln University, said the 
world organic trade was expected to be worth $6.2 billion by 2000. 
New Zealand organic exports, worth about $50 million at present, were 
doubling each year. 
Growers reluctant to convert 
Despite premiums of between 20 and 200 per cent for organic produce, 
New Zealand growers were reluctant to convert. "By having this 
demonstration farm it will show wavering farmers that the technology 
of organics is do-able," he said. 
Professor Wratten said farmers were nervous about converting because 
they were unsure whether the weed and pest control technologies would 
work, and some were nervous that the market would not be there by the 
time they had converted. 
The increase in genetically modified organisms worldwide was more 
reason for New Zealand to go the organic way. "We would have a clear 
market niche," he said. "The more that GMOs become common around the 
world, the less reason for us to join the bandwagon." 
Professor Wratten said the new farm would benefit the university in 
research and teaching, and would provide closer links with industry. 
One of the previous weak links in the organic rotation cycle - 
pastoralism to revitalise the soil - was now likely to be filled 
because for the first time in the South Island a meat company was 
interested in taking organic stock. 

Samira Wohlfart
Organic Products Exporters Group Inc. (OPEG)
PO Box 8640
New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 348-0979
Fax: +64 3 348-1867

Scott Kinnear

Organic Federation of Australia
C/- 452 Lygon St 
East Brunswick 
Victoria 3057

Ph 61 3 9386 6600
Fax 61 3 9384 1322


The Organic Federation of Australia has revealed that thousands of hectares
of genetically engineered canola is being grown throughout Australia.  This
threatens Australia's new markets in Europe and Japan for organic and "GE
free" canola at record levels this year.

"These so called "trials" are more like a general release", Mr Scott
Kinnear Chairperson of the Federation said today.  "It is well documented
that canola pollen can transfer via bees at least six or more kilometres.
The buffer zones of 400 m required by the Genetic Manipulation Advisory
Committee are a joke!", he said.

"We expect there is already contamination of Australian canola, including
organic canola.  Organic food worldwide is required to be "GE free".  The
size, number and purpose for these trials appears to undermine Australia's
"GE free" status", Mr Kinnear said.

"These herbicide tolerance trials, in all canola growing regions of
Australia, cover 100's of sites in most States, on more than 2000 ha of
land.  If we draw a circle around each site 6km in radius then each site
could potentially contaminate 100,000 ha of canola crops nearby.  It is
possible that more than 10 million ha could be reached by GE canola pollen
this year.  Some of the seed is sent back to Canada for commercial GE crop
production and further seed breeding programs.  This is a clear commercial
benefit to the proponent and should not be classed as a trial", he said.

"We call for an immediate halt to summer plantings scheduled to begin in
October.  We also call for a full inquiry into the risk to organic and "GE
free" canola growers, and whether these trials are of a commercial nature
which would constitute an unauthorised general release", he said. 

"Bee keepers also need to be fully informed.  Many beekeepers collect honey
from canola and have been warned that their honey might be rejected in
Europe if it contains GE pollen", he said.  These hundreds of releases of
GE canola are a threat to the livelihoods of the fastest growing sector of
Australian agriculture and we are outraged", he said.

The Organic Federation of Australia will give evidence before the Federal
Government's House of Representatives Standing Committee Inquiry into
Primary Producer Access to Gene Technology tomorrow in Parliament House

"We will ask government to impose minimum conditions on any further
releases of GE crops, for trial or general release.  These conditions are:

ā The establishment of liability for environmental and economic damage;
ā The establishment of a compensation fund similar to workers compensation
where all who engage in production of GE foods or gain commercially from
them, pay a levy to that fund.  This fund is to pay organic and "GE free"
farmers if they are contaminated or suffer environmental damage such as the
loss of Bt the widely used insect toxin;
ā The establishment of realistic buffer zones on a crop by crop basis;
ā Full notification to all stakeholders of the exact location of all trials
and commercial releases of GE crops so that organic and "GE free" farmers
can eliminate their risk;
ā A total quality management system that incorporates environmental impact
assessment on a case by case basis before release, an independent
monitoring program, and effective regulations that lead to swift
appropriate action to prevent crop damage.

For further comment Scott Kinnear can be reached on 03 9386 6600 or 0419
881 729.

Scott Kinnear

Organic Federation of Australia
C/- 452 Lygon St 
East Brunswick 
Victoria 3057

Ph 61 3 9386 6600
Fax 61 3 9384 1322
Date: 9 Aug 1999 23:32:37 -0500
Subject: words from Devinder Sharma
12) Wanted, A New Definition of Farmers  By Devinder Sharma

If you are educated, wear a shirt and a pair of trousers and cultivate
with the help of a tractor, the chances are that you may not be called a
farmer. Unless you are attired in a dirty "dhoti-kurta", wear soiled
or "chappals" and still perform subsistence farming with a bullock-drawn
wooden plough, you do not qualify to be a farmer. At least, that is what
United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea are insisting.

Such is the underlying contempt for the farming communities of the
developing world that the industrialised countries have refused to talk
favour of farmers. In fact, backed by the richest trading block, the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the US has
been continuously making every possible effort to thwart the developing
countries attempt to accord recognition to Farmersi Rights -- an
of the contribution of farming communities to their innovative capacity
breeders, and custodian of the traditional knowledge and biological

But why protect the rights of farmers ? Because, as the Canadian Seed
Association pointed out in its booklet, Seeds for a Hungry World: iIt
borders on fantasy to believe the worldis first farmers knew they were
improving the value of species for mankind.i The first people who
decided to
plant one kind of seed in  preference to another did so because they had
observed something -- perhaps better fruits or more grains per spike --
wanted similar or better results the next season. Nonetheless, these
farmers were the forerunners of todayis plant breeders. And as The
suggested way back in 1954, iThe real experts in plant breeding are
millions of human beings who have inherited green fingers down through

The debate, therefore, revolved around the definition of a farmer,
justifying the need to bring in Farmersi Rights, which led to the
of the fifth extraordinary session of Commission on Genetic Resources
Food and Agriculture, at Rome in June 1998. And yet, two significant
developments emerged from the politically surcharged deliberations that
continued for five days. First, India continued to lead the developing
countries in protecting the rights of its farming communities in the
face of
a volte face being aggressively pursued by the rich trading block.
the European Union, which had so far resisted the developing countries
on providing adequate protection and privileges to the farming
preferred to withdraw support from the anti-farmer lobby.

While the developed countries were keen that the gene rich countries of
South facilitate the access to plant germplasm, they refused to adhere
the accompanying principles enshrined in the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD). Accordingly, the countries which use the plant
from the developing world have to assure that the benefits accruing from
use of the germplasm is equitably shared with the communities which
preserved and conserved the biological resources over centuries. This
has to
be accomplished by transfer of technology and by setting up of an
international fund to support farmersi efforts to protect plant

Notwithstanding the defiant stand of the developing countries, the five
foodgrain exporting countries, which stand isolated, are determined not
allow any move that strengthens the rights of the farming communities
thereby weakens the commercial interests of the seed and biotechnology
industry. Knowing well that Farmersi Rights are not compatible with the
intellectual property rights system based on private monopoly control,
countries have waged an undeclared war that aims at eliminating any and
kinds of privileges for millions of resource-poor farmers. Their stand
very clear : the farmers who protected the plant biodiversity are not
modern farmers and hence the benefits should go to only those who are
engaged in subsistence and traditional farming systems. The issue has
not been resolved.

Ostensibly, at the heart of the controversy is the issue of Farmersi
ights  -- the collective right of the farmers to their resources and
knowledge. It not only provides the farmers the right to benefit from
biological resources and related indigenous knowledge, their right to
exchange and improve seeds also becomes inalienable. Since these rights
cut into the profits of the multinational seed and biotechnology
the developed countries have relentlessly been campaigning against its
imposition. More so, because many of these countries have fewer farmers
and so have little interest in protecting them. For instance, with the
number of farmers dwindling over the years, the US has decided not to
the number of farmers in the next population census. In other words,
as a community will soon become extinct in America.

Working all along towards the derecognition of Farmersi Rights, the US
not allowed international deliberations to proceed beyond treating
Rights as a iconcepti. At the fourth Technical Conference on Plant
Resources for Food and Agriculture, held at Leipzig in Germany in June
the US had blocked any move towards developing Farmersi Rights. A few
later, at the technical advisory committee of the CBD, which met at
in September 1966, it did not allow a conclusion to be arrived at on the
vexed issue of Farmersi Rights in the light of the discussion around
erosion in agriculture. All that the conference agreed to, thanks to the
efforts of the US lobby, was to allow presentation of a paper at the
November 1966 Buenos Aires meeting ireflecting the diverse views and

The OECD has time and again reiterated that interpretation of the trade
agreement by any other forum than WTO is out of question. And WTO does
recognise Farmersi Rights. In other words, having lost its farming
the west is keen to destroy the strong foundations of sustainable
agriculture and crop husbandry in the developing countries. But given
political mayhem that prevails in India, the powers that be are not even
remotely concerned at safeguarding and protecting the Indian farmers
from an
international onslaught that renders the farming society vulnerable to
unbridled exploitation. #

(Devinder Sharma is a New Delhi-based food and trade policy analyst.
his recent works include two books: "GATT to WTO: Seeds of Despair" and
The Famine Trap")

Address: Post Box # 4, New Delhi-110 024, India.


13) Financial Times 5th August 1999 - Science's secret garden. Government
with genetically modified crops will fail in their aim of showing whether the
technology is safe.

Environment Viewpoint - Sue Mayer

Farm scale trials with genetically modified crops are emerging as the
battleground on which the future of genetically modified food in Britain is
being determines. As the fields of GM crops are destroyed by activists, secret
experiments behind barbed wire fences are now in prospect. 

Government, industry and scientists maintain these tests will determine
or not GM herbicide-tolerant crops are safe. They argue that opponents are
frightened of the facts and the public have the right to know the results. 

But just how likely is it that these experiments can give the answer we have
all been waiting for? After all there is no historical precedent for a
scientific experiment resolving a similar controversy.

These farm-scale experiments are designed to consider how the use of herbicide
tolerant GM crops may affect farmland wildlife. The herbicides used to kill
weeds in the crop are toxic to all green plants except the GM crop and one
concern is that there will be less food for insects and birds. Our already
threatened farmland birds could be placed at even greater risk. This is an
issue environmentalists have long been concerned about and it is very welcome
that it has official recognition. 

Although big, the experiments are limited in the information they can gather.
More worryingly, even though the trials last four years the GM crop will only
be grown for one season in any one field. Small changes in weed or insect
numbers and diversity may not be detected or not considered significant in one
season but when such GM herbicide tolerant crops are grown repeatedly every
or three years, significant, cumulative impacts may emerge. 

Crops are normally grown in rotation, so this omission could prove a crucial
mistake in the long term. The GM crop and herbicide package could be
safe while in fact we are releasing an ecological time bomb, its power
increased as each new herbicide tolerant crop is commercialised. 

Nor is that all. The farm scale trials are comparing GM herbicide tolerant and
conventional varieties grown using different chemicals. This begs an important
question about whether the best yardstick is being used. The GM crops may look
safe if compared to a system accepted as profoundly damaging to wildlife, but
if compared to a less intensive system or even an organic approach they could
emerge as dangerous . Given the public sympathy for organic systems, this may
prove a costly political error.

Not only are the experiments limited, as all scientific research is, but they
also only touch on only one aspect of the safety debate. Gene flow to native
flora and to other non-GM crops is another important aspect. 

The wild gene pool may acquire genes from species from which they have been
evolutionarily distinct for hundreds of thousands of years. Farmers trying to
produce non-GM or organic food may not only suffer genetic contamination of
their product but discover they have inherited herbicide-resistant weeds in
their following crops. While these sorts of impacts are considered inevitable
in one form or another, their importance is being played down officially and
will be institutionalised through the imposition of tolerable contamination

Still more remote from these trials are the unresolved issues of liability,
choice, the need for such crops and the justification for any risks. These are
central to decisions about GM crops in the public s mind but have been
marginalised by establishing the farm scale tests as final arbiter of
safety . 

So while the public has a right to know the results of these experiments, the
public must also know about their limitations and the outstanding issues. The
scientific steering committee controlling the tests should prepare a statement
of both the advantages and the limitations of the trials so they can be placed
in their proper context. 

Such limitations could act either way. By not waiting until more controlled
experiments on best management weed practice (taking the interests of wildlife
interests into account) are completed, the industry risk not detecting an
improvement compared to conventional systems. 

Ultimately the Government has to take the responsibility for establishing the
farm scale tests as the final arbiter of the GM crop issue and laying itself
and the industry open to the resulting public reaction. It is misusing science
to obstruct democratic questioning of GM crops. Hiding behind a set of
scientific experiments to avoid the debate and all its complexities is neither
rigorous science nor good governance. Shrouding future tests in secrecy and
introducing heavy security will transform the GM industry into the nuclear
industry of the next century expensive, unwanted, untrusted and a continuing
focus of conflict. 

14) ENDS Environment Daily - Monday 9 August 1999 - GMO firms offer to comply
with draft EU rules
> Biotechnology companies have seized the initiative in the
> debate over the EU's quasi-moratorium on permits for new
> genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by offering to comply
> with proposed changes to the rules before they are set in
> law.
> Monsanto and AgrEvo, which have both applied for marketing
> approval for new GMOs under the 1990 "deliberate release"
> directive (90/220), have said they will modify their
> application dossiers to take account of the more stringent
> demands that governments want to put in place in the revised
> legislation.
> The move is a response to the quasi-moratorium on new
> authorisations announced by a number of EU member states in
> June.  At a ministerial meeting in Luxembourg, 11 of the 15
> EU countries signed up to one of two declarations which made
> it clear that they were opposed to any new authorisations
> before the revised directive is in place (ENDS Daily 25
> June).  As the draft directive, which was strengthened by
> the ministers, has yet to undergo a second reading by the
> European Parliament, it may not be in force for at least
> another year.
> The new industry initiative has succeeded in postponing a
> vote on three new EU GMO permits that should have taken
> place tomorrow.  It had been widely predicted that the
> applications would have been refused and referred up to the
> EU Council of Ministers for a further vote.  According to a
> European Commission official, "a number" of countries said
> they would like to delay the vote for a month while they
> look at what the industry could offer.  The vote ­ which was
> to be taken by a committee of EU member state
> representatives via a written procedure ­ concerned two
> AgrEvo GM oilseed rape varieties and a Monsanto fodder beet
> which have all been modified to be resistant to herbicides
> (ENDS Daily 12 July).
> A spokesman for AgrEvo told ENDS Daily that the company
> wanted to collaborate with the Commission and the national
> authorities in Germany and Belgium over the next few weeks
> to see what changes in its application might bring it in
> line with the ministers' common position.  "We have to look
> through the [applications] and see how they comply with the
> planned new directive.  We don't want to cause any problems
> by having files within the system that are not in compliance
> with the new directive," said AgrEvo's Wolfgang Faust.
> Monsanto confirmed it was looking at similar action "to show
> we are sensitive to the sort of changes that are being
> discussed".
> Mr Faust said that possible changes might include long-term
> monitoring and traceability of the crops ­ two areas
> highlighted as problematic by the June declarations.The
> applications will be discussed again, and possibly voted on,
> at a meeting of member state officials next month.
> Contacts:  European Commission
> (<>,
tel: +32 2 299 1111;
> AgrEvo (<>, tel:  +49 30 439 080;
> Monsanto (<>, tel:+ 32 2 776
> GMOs may leave Brussels' environment section
> Speculation is growing that the forthcoming reorganisation
> of the European Commission could result in biotechnology
> issues being handled by the health and consumer affairs
> department, rather than by the environment directorate
> (DGXI) as at present.  The president-designate of the
> Commission, Romano Prodi, is understood to want to bring
> together all matters concerning consumer protection under
> the charge of the commissioner-designate for consumer
> protection, David Byrne.  If genetically modified organisms
> (GMOs) are included in this, it would mean shifting
> responsibility for the 1990 directive governing
> authorisation of new GMOs (90/220) away from DGXI.  Such a
> change would be welcomed by the biotechnology industry which
> was not impressed by DGXI's proposal to revise the directive
> ­ a text which is currently under discussion by MEPs and
> national governments.  MEPs have so far assumed that Margot
> Wallström, nominated to replace current environment
> commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard, would take charge of the main
> GMO directive, and will grill her about her views on a
> moratorium on new authorisations during a special hearing
> next month.
> Contacts:  European Commission
> tel: +32 2 299 1111.
15) Sask. farmer sues Monsanto for $10 million - WebPosted Thu Aug 12 07:22:27

REGINA - A legal battle between biotech giant Monsanto and a
Saskatchewan farmer is heating up. 

Monsanto has launched court action against Percy Schmeiser to protect
one of its patented seeds. 

Now Schmeiser, who farms in southern Saskatchewan, is fighting back. 

Wednesday, he served Monsanto with his own lawsuit for more than $10

Schmeiser's troubles with Monsanto started a couple of years ago, after
the company says it found fields of Round Up Ready Canola growing on his
farm outside Bruno. 

That's Monsanto's genetically altered seed, which allows farmers to
spray their crops with the herbicide Round Up-- the weeds are killed but
the canola plants survive. 

Monsanto -- which has a patent on what's inside the seed -- alleges that
Schmeiser grew the seed without its permission. 

Earlier this week, Schmeiser and Monsanto sat down with a court mediator
in Saskatoon to try to avoid a lawsuit. 

That effort failed. 

Monsanto decided to go ahead with its suit. Then Schmeiser decided to
countersue, saying Monsanto is trying to take away the fundamental
rights of farmers. 

"My lawsuit and the amount of it will send a message to Monsanto that it
can't continue to keep doing to farmers what they are doing, such as
taking away their plant breeders' rights and going on to their fields,"
he told CBC News. 

In his lawsuit, Schmeiser says he's entitled to damages because of what
he calls the arrogant, high-handed and shocking conduct of Monsanto. So
far, no date has been set for Schmeiser's suit. 

Officials for Monsanto aren't talking. 
16) (From: The Economic Times, New Delhi, Aug 11) - India should present a
at the WTO for excluding traditional medicines from the ambit of patenting,
says Biswajit Dhar


In what has now become a common occurrence, yet another composition from
India's rich stock of traditional medicines has been patented by a US
company and is now to form a part of its private closet. The medicine in
question is an edible herbal composition comprising mixtures of at least two
herbs selected from jamun, gur-mar, bitter gourd and brinjal, which the
so-called inventors claim has usefulness in controlling diabetes. The
invention for which the patent was granted in May 1999, has been claimed by
three scientists, two of whom are of Indian origin.

The growing incidence of patenting of traditional medicines, which first
came to light when compositions of turmeric and neem were patented in the US
a few years ago, raises several issues that would need serious consideration
at the present juncture. At the first instance, patenting of these
traditional medicines in the Western countries, which have a large and
growing market for alternative systems of medicines, would imply a death
knell for the business prospects of the Indian enterprises exporting to
these countries. This would arise since patent rights enable the patent
holders preclude any other commercial enterprise to conduct business in the
country which grants them the patents. The prospects of the Indian
enterprises in the domestic market is, however, not under threat
immediately, since a grant of a patent in the US does not automatically bind
India to accept the patent in this country. But given the increasing
influence of the foreign enterprises in Indian markets, there may be
tremendous pressure exerted by these enterprises to have their patents
recognised in this country as well.

India’s response to the patents taken by the companies on turmeric and neem,
and more recently on basmati, has been to challenge the grant of the patents
in the US. The turmeric patent was challenged by the CSIR a few years ago,
and although the US Patent Office had decided to revoke the patent, this
patent continues to be listed as a patent granted in the US for reasons that
are not very clear at the moment. The patent on basmati has also been
challenged and it may be a while before a final verdict on this patent is
heard from the US Patent Office.

This approach adopted by India to react whenever a patent on one or the
other traditional medicine is taken in other countries does not appear to be
very practicable in long run. There are two compelling reasons for this
view. The first is that the procedure of challenging patents in the Western
countries is an extremely costly affair, both in terms of time and financial
resources, which the country can ill-afford. Besides the direct costs of
challenging the patents, there are substantial indirect costs. The principal
among these would be the loss of export markets that the Indian enterprises
would suffer in these countries. The second, and possibly the more important
problem is that even if a patent is challenged, there is absolutely no
guarantee that the patent would eventually be revoked by the patent offices
of the countries granting these patents or their courts.

Given these problems, India would have to seriously consider taking a more
pro-active approach towards addressing the challenge posed by patenting of
its traditional medicines, primarily in the industrialised countries. Policy
makers in this country could do well to take an initiative for co-ordinating
the activities of the patent offices around the globe in order to ensure
that products or processes, which owe their origin to the traditional
knowledge systems, are not granted patents in any country. After all,
patents are granted only to products or processes, which are new and involve
an inventive step, and products or processes belonging to the traditional
knowledge system of one country cannot be termed as new in any other

A more specific point that India could raise in this context is that patent
offices the world over must allow for a public scrutiny of all patent
applications, much in the manner that the Indian Patents Act provides. This
procedure could help weeding out all such patent claims where the applicant
attempts to misappropriate traditional knowledge. Such moves at streamlining
the procedures followed by the patent offices would certainly have
supporters from amongst the developing countries, a sizeable number of whom
are facing problems similar to that being faced by India. One of the
vehicles for carrying out these activities could be the Geneva based World
Intellectual Property Organisation, the more commonly known as WIPO, which
is the global think tank on issues pertaining to patents and all other forms
of intellectual property rights. In recent months, India has in fact
increased its engagement with the WIPO by becoming a member of two of the
international treaties on patents that this organisation manages.

The more significant initiative to prevent patenting of traditional
medicines would have to be taken in the more important of the Geneva-based
organisations, the World Trade Organisation. The WTO has provided the most
comprehensive global framework for patenting embedded in the Agreement on
TRIPs, which its member countries have to implement through enacting
national legislations. Since the formation of the WTO in 1995 several
countries have found that the framework of patent protection provided by the
TRIPs Agreement does not adequately take care of many of the problems that
they were up against. The patenting of traditional medicines adds to the
long list of areas that the WTO would need to seriously consider. The
important issue in this context is that the Agreement on TRIPs is due for a
full review in the year 2000 and that would be the best possible opportunity
for countries like India to present a case for excluding traditional
medicines from the ambit of patenting. That would possibly be the surest way
of ensuring that these products are not misappropriated by the already
dominant private enterprises in Western countries to the detriment of the
interests of the developing countries.
17) For Immediate Release - Tuesday 10th August 1999 ASA RULES THAT MONSTANTO

Tomorrow, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will publish its
adjudication on Monsanto s advertisements about genetically modified (GM)
and crops (1). The ASA has concluded that adverts run between June and
September 1998 were misleading on four counts because: 
    * Monsanto claimed that GM potatoes and tomatoes had been given safety
    approval in over 20 countries' including the UK when they have not
    (separate complaints about each crop upheld); 
    * Monsanto claimed that genetic modification was an extension of
    breeding methods when it is not; 
    * Monsanto had not been testing the safety of GM food for 20 years as they
"An independent assessment has shown that Monsanto are willing to make
misleading claims to promote their products." said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch
UK s

GeneWatch UK, an independent organisation monitoring developments in genetic
engineering, is one of the groups who complained to the ASA (2) and whose
complaints have been upheld.

"The advertisements were a disgrace. Although Monsanto claimed they were
promoting a public debate, they used the ads to mislead and confuse. It has
become impossible to trust Monsanto," said Dr Mayer.

While upholding four complaints against Monsanto, the Council of the ASA has
reversed the recommendations by the secretariat of the ASA that a further
complaints be upheld (3). The secretariat had recommended that complaints be
upheld that Monsanto were wrong to say that they supported segregation of GM
crops; were wrong to state that GM crops would result in food being grown in a
more environmentally sustainable way as this was not proven; and had confused
people into thinking that they were prepared to sacrifice sales of their
herbicide Roundup to reduce pesticide use when they are not.

"The sudden reversal of the secretariat s recommendations has sinister
overtones of external influence. Has the Council of the ASA been pressurised
into limiting their criticisms of Monsanto?" added Sue Mayer.

For further information contact Sue Mayer: 01298 871898 (work) 01298 871558

07930 308807 (mobile)

    * The complaints were divided into thirteen issues by the ASA, four of
    were upheld. 
    * A total of 81 groups and individuals complained to the ASA. 
    * Draft recommendations enclosed in letter to GeneWatch from the ASA dated
    10 May 1999. 
Sue Mayer
GeneWatch UK
The Courtyard
Whitecross Road
Derbyshire SK17 8NY
Ph: 01298 871898
Fax: 01298 872531
e-mail: <> OR

18) Biotechnology a key to world food supply - UN - AUSTRALIA: August 10, 1999
MELBOURNE - The adoption of international standards on
biotechnology was a key to world food supply, a United Nations
food official said.

Rome-based David Byron, food standards officer for the UN's Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said this here during preparations for an 
October conference on world food trade and standards.
Access by all consumers to adequate, good quality and safe foods at
affordable prices was one of the major issues facing the world, he said. 
This would require better food production, storage, preservation and 
marketing systems, as well as internationally adopted standards for food 
quality and safety, he said.

This covered food hygiene, food borne diseases and emerging technologiessuch 
as biotechnology, he said.

International agreement on food standards was the key to consumer
protection, greater access to export markets, increased foreign exchange and 
food security, Byron said in a statement.

The FAO conference on the international food trade beyond year 2000 will be 
held in Melbourne on October 11-15, the first time it has been held outside 

Jointly hosted by the Australian governments of the state of Victoria and of 
the Commonwealth, the conference will highlight the importance of trade 
issues ahead of new agriculture negotiations later this year under the World 
Trade Organisation (WTO), Byron said.

The Australian government and the country's big farm export sector is
pressing strongly for liberalisation of world trade in agricultural products 
as a result of coming WTO talks.

Byron's statement also comes with Australia embroiled in a heated debate on 
standards for genetically modified food products following a recent decision 
by Australian and New Zealand health ministers requiring mandatory labelling 
of foods produced using gene technology.
19) EU postpones vote on new genetically modified crops - EU: August 10, 1999
BRUSSELS - The European Commission has postponed a meeting set for today, 
which was due to vote on whether to approve three new genetically modified 
organisms, a Commission spokesman said yesterdat.

Representatives from the 15 European Union governments had been due to
decide whether to license a new GM fodder beet developed by Monsanto Co, 
plus two new strains of rapeseed developed by Agrevo - a joint venture 
between Hoechst AG and Schering AG .

The meeting will now not take place until next month, after a number of 
countries asked for a delay, a Commission spokesman told Reuters. He 
declined to say which countries had asked for the postponement.

The Commission put forward the applications for a vote last month, just 
three weeks after EU environment ministers backed a temporary halt to GMO 
approvals, against a background of growing public concern about the safety 
of foods derived from GM crops.

The Commission, the EU's executive, said it was merely carrying out its 
legal duty to process applications and did not expect governments to give 
the products their blessing.

New approvals in the EU are unlikely until a new authorisation system has 
been agreed, which could take months or even years, EU officials said. A 
spokesman for environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed the delay.

"This proves once and for all that the EU's system for approving GMOs has 
broken down irreparably," he said. The depth of public anxiety has been 
underlined by recent attacks on British farms involved in trials of GM 
Monsanto Press Release


Monsanto would like to thank the Council of the Advertising Standards
Authority for its ruling. With our advertising campaign last year we
intended to inform the public of our opinion - and enthusiasm - on the
subject of plant biotechnology. We perhaps did not take sufficiently
into account the difference in culture between the UK and the USA in the
way some of this information was presented. We recognize that the
Council upheld four complaints and we regret the fact that these
statements were not in strict conformity with the ASA Code. It was not
our intention to mislead or deceive, and we apologize to anyone who
might have understood these advertisements. [?]

We ourselves learned during the course of this campaign. That is why in
two of the four complaints which were upheld, we had already changed the
advertisements before being notified of complaints by ASA. There were
advertisements in which we referred to our genetically modified potatoes
and tomatoes and, in the original versions, may have implied that they
had been approved in over 20 countries, including the UK. While it is
true that our biotech product in total have been approved in over 20
countries, the original advertisements did not make it clear that this
does not apply individually to our biotech potatoes and tomatoes.

In the third upheld complaint, in which the statement that we had been
testing genetically modified foods for 20 years was contested, the
Council found that we had only provided evidence for 16 years of safety
testing. In the fourth, the Council found that quotes from academics
which were cited did not make it clear that expert opinion is divided on
the question of whether gene technology is an extension of traditional
plant breeding. But they did accept that the quotations were accurate.

The ASA has not upheld 9 of the 14 complaints they received about our
1998 UK advertising campaign. Amongst these are our statements about
important issues such as the environment benefits of plant biotechnology
on which the Council  decided that we had provided enough evidence to
support our opinions. [as matters of opinion but NOT as matters of fact
- - ngin]

Again, we apologize for any misunderstandings our advertisements
mighthave caused.

To be free -- Free your mind