info4action archive


GE - mixed news July 22nd

1) Subject: CBS' Wyatt Andrews on GE food
2) US grain group may hire ex-USTR head for GMO issue
3) international daily mail article - 'GM free' food could still be
modified by
Geraint Smith 
3) Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK Business: The
EU boycott call over US tariffs Consumers are being asked not to buy US
like this Chrysler Viper 
4)  Rude Awakening  By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
5) From the Codex Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and
Marketing of Organically Produced Foods.
6) TITLE:  GM Short Cut To Help Starving Third World The Express, UK, by John
Ingham  July 16, 1999
7) GM Food Information Dismissed as Propaganda in New Zealand
8) US Food Giants Plan PR Campaign on GM Foods
9) Thalidomide Victims Call for Ban on GM Foods
10) UK GM Labelling Guidance Notes Published The UK Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food (MAFF) has published a set of guidance notes on the
requirements of the legislation for the approval of novel foods and novel food
ingredients, and on the labelling of foods containing genetically modified
and maize.

the following news feature is important because Dan Rather is one of the most
watched and respected news anchormen in the USA

Date: 21 Jul 1999 20:02:36 -0500
1) Subject: CBS' Wyatt Andrews on GE food

CBS Evening News, July 21 n Eye on America

Hard News Investigation into whatis gone into the food chain and onto
your dinner table, and you may not even know it! 

(Dan Rather) To the alphabet soup of additives, preservatives, and
vitamins A to Z, we can now add these letters: DNA. So, are designer
genes tailor made for food a good fit for humans? CBSis Wyatt Andrews
serves you the facts on this.

(view of farmer in field) iIf I didnit believe it was safe, I wouldnit
grow it.i

As a successful farmer in Iowa, Dorin Zumball (sp?) hates it when
someone accuses him of growing Frankenstein food. iI think thereis a
huge amount of scare tactic involved in this . . . (inaudible). What
Zumball is growing is genetically modified food n corn that has been
gene-spliced with a different organism, a forced genetic marriage of
corn and a bacterium called Bt. iThe Bt gene is inserted in the plant.i
The Bt makes the plant itself toxic to this insect, the corn borer, but
leaves the corn safe for human consumption and, Zumball argues, is much
better for the environment. iHistorically, weive applied alot of
insecticides to kill corn borers. And, with the Bt gene inserted in the
plant, I donit have to do that.i

And itis just the beginning of the genetically modified or GM future.
Today, itis pest resistant plants, but soon there will be health foods n
soy spliced with the nutrients of olive oil; vegetables with more
vitamin A, and potatoes that produce pharmaceutical drugs. American
farmers are planting these genetically mixed crops whole hog. Today,
half of the soy beans, 40% of the corn, and an increasing number of
potatoes, are all being grown with genetically engineered seed.

So you probably donit know this (there are no labels), but thousands of
foods in the store, from corn-raised steak to corn flakes to baby food
now come from GM crops. Americans eat this every day. But in Europe,
especially England, critics call it iFrankenfood.i Even Prince Charles
questions its safety. And at the British Medical Association, Dr. Vivian
Nathanson warns, altered DNA in food could produce allergies and other
side effects. iThe fact that there is no demonstrable effect on human
health so far doesnit actually mean that something is risk free.i

iThis is soy bean oil, we have . . . i John Fagan is an American
scientist whose lab tests genetic foods for European companies. He too
believes GM foods need long term study. Each time you put a gene in,
itis causing mutations to the existing genes of that organism. And
therefore there are unexpected side effects that can come out of this

(Wyatt Andrews) When I buy this in my cornflakes, is it safe to eat?
iYes, it is.i Flat out? iFlat out.i Hugh Grant, the President for
Agriculture here in St. Louis-based Monsanto, the largest US producer of
this seed, calls the fear unfounded. (Andrews) Can it hurt a human
being? iNo.i How do you know that? iBecause thatis been tested
extensively, and I think . . .i   Has it been tested on mammals, has it
been tested on people? iYes, certainly, and these are proteins that are
broken down as you ingest them.i

iAnd these are some corn plants . . .i  Monsanto insists these plants
are screened and tested for harmful proteins long before they sell the
seeds to farmers. iThe government has given them an absolute clean bill
of health, and they have sailed through the regulatory system in the US,
and have been signed off as safe.i

(shot of large combine in the fields) Still, the speed of this
revolution, from nothing four years ago, to tens of millions of acres
today, has put some farmers in a bind. Theyire growing food some
customers wonit buy, customers who donit trust the altered genetic
makeup of the amber waves of grain.

In Coggin, Iowa n  Wyatt Andrews for Eye on America

(Dan Rather) Tomorrow, in our second report here, you donit know when
youire getting gene-altered food, so why wonit the government even tell
you, on the label?

2) US grain group may hire ex-USTR head for GMO issue
USA: July 21, 1999
BOSTON - The U.S. Grains Council may hire former U.S. Trade Representative 
Carla Hills to lobby world leaders in support of genetically-modified crops, 
council officials said.

The idea behind the plan is to try to reverse the tide of negative publicity 
in Latin America and Asia that threatens the future of genetically-modified 
crops, said Richard Krajeck, vice president of the grains council.
A committee within the influential grains council recommended spending about 
$300,000 to hire Hills and her consulting firm over the next year. The full 
U.S. Grains Council board of directors will vote on the proposal Tuesday.
Although U.S. scientists and regulators have appoved a number of 
genetically-modified corn and soybean varieties for planting, stiff 
resistance from the European Union is threatening global acceptance of the 
new varieties.
The Grains Council had considered launching a worldwide consumer education 
programme for genetically-modified corps, but rejected that idea as too 
Hills, who was U.S. trade representative under President George Bush, would 
be hired to speak with world leaders on the benefits of genetically-modified 
crops, as well as the amount of research on the new technologies being done 
outside the United States, Krajeck said.
Her major focus would be to meet with leaders in Asia and Latin America, 
rather than the EU, to keep those countries from following Europe's lead, he 
"She's not making any promises, nor are we, that it can all be turned 
around," Krajeck said. "But we need to do something."
On other issues, the council's International Government Affairs Committee 
voted to endorse:
- a "single undertaking" of the next round of World Trade Organisation talks 
that begin in late November, rather than an "early harvest" approach that 
would let some sectors be finished ahead of others;
- the inclusion of labour and environmental provisions in the WTO talks if 
those do not interfere with trade;
- negotiations aimed at clarifying the interpretation of certain provisions 
of the so-called "sanitary-phytosanitary agreement," rather than completely 
reopening the pact;
U.S. trade officials want to fold biotechnology issues into the 
science-based SPS agreement, without giving the EU the opportunity to weaken 
the pact by allowing unscientifically-justified consumer concerns to play a 
role in food safety regulations.
3) international daily mail article - 'GM free' food could still be
modified by
Geraint Smith 
The European Union is preparing to allow food to be labelled "GM free" even if
as much as three per cent of it consists of genetically modified organisms, it
is claimed. 
A report by the Food Commission, being published tomorrow, says supermarkets
including Asda, Iceland, Somerfield and Waitrose are working to a "tolerance
level" of genetically modified food that allows anything between 0.1 and two
per cent to be GM, even while telling customers that the product is GM free. 
Some are already quoting "the two per cent tolerance level being mooted as a
possible EU directive". 
Sainsbury's, which says it is working to a maximum of 0.1 per cent modified
content in GM free foods, says the "maximum contamination level set by the
industry" is in fact as high as three per cent. 
The Food Commission asked major retailers and trade bodies what their policies
were on GM tolerance levels. Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Budgen said they
required a zero tolerance on their own-brand products. 
Safeway said it merely "aimed" at zero tolerance but did not say how high a
level it would accept if this aim were not met. Sainsbury's said it was
committed to reducing its 0.1 per cent maximum "to even lower levels". 
However, the Co-op said it wants levels "to be as low as realistic for
compliance purposes". It believed "realistic" meant that as much as two per
cent of its GM-free food could come from modified products. 
Asda said it would allow as much as one per cent modified organisms in GM free
food. Waitrose said it was "awaiting the outcome of EU deliberations" which it
believes will set the tolerance level at between one and two per cent. 
Somerfield said: "In the case of soya and maize purchased as
crops then the proposed legally permitted allowance of up to two per cent
tolerance will be accepted." However, it believed it was "easily capable of
doing better than two per cent". 
It also said that it would "not declare genetic modification where
additives and processing aids are present in the final product at less than
0.01 per cent on a weight by weight basis". 
The British Retail Consortium said its member shops would approach the problem
"on the basis of de minimis" rather than setting a specific tolerance. De
minimis is a legal loophole under which ingredients present in minute
quantities - 0.01 per cent of the total - do not need to be acknowledged. 
Pepper, for instance, does not need not be declared in any ready-made meals,
provided it makes up less than 0.01 per cent of the whole meal. 
It could be irradiated or GM, but the buyer would not even know it was there. 
Sue Dibb, co-director of the Food Commission and author of the report, said:
"Consumers wanting GM-free foods need to know that the strictest standards
operate to keep GM contamination out of the entire food chain. 
"All food companies which claim their products are GM-free should be aiming
zero tolerance levels. GM-free should mean GM-free." 
However, she also acknowledges that making a product entirely free of
genetically modified ingredients might no longer be possible in the case of
non-organic food. 
"Trading standards inspectors are now saying privately that the label GM-free
should no longer be allowed," she said. 
Tolerance levels also operate in other matters not related to GM. 
A label on high-quality pasta declaring that it is "100 per cent durum wheat"
actually means that it could be just 97 per cent durum wheat, the remainder
being cheaper, soft wheat. 
Let's have a picnic
Normandie Keith and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson are backing the campaign against
genetically modified food and will be attending a giant organic picnic to be
held this Sunday in Greenwich Park. 
According to the organisers, who include the Soil Association and Greenpeace,
thousands of people will turn out in the biggest protest yet against GM food. 
Others supporting the picnic include Jemima Khan - wife of Imran Khan -
supermodel Elle Macpherson, Emily Lloyd, Simon and Yasmin le Bon and Ben
Elliott. The picnic is free and open to the public, but organisers are asking
participants to supply their own - organic - food.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 21 July 1999
3) Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK Business: The
EU boycott call over US tariffs Consumers are being asked not to buy US
like this Chrysler Viper 

French farmers are calling for consumers in the European Union to boycott
American products after the US said it would impose high tariffs on European
goods in the row over hormone-treated beef. 

Washington is hitting back at the EU for refusing to remove its 10-year-old
on the beef. 

The EU says its scientists are worried that hormone-treated meat carries
risks, possibly causing cancer and triggering reproductive disorders in men. 

US scientists and the World Trade Organisation dispute this. 

Chocolate, onions on tariff menu 

Now the US plans to impose 100% tariffs on European goods ranging from
chocolate and pork to onions and truffles. The sanctions will come into effect
on 29 July. 

But two leading farm unions in France are calling on consumers to strike back.
France will be hit by tariffs on many animal products, but also luxury goods
like foie gras and Roquefort blue cheese. 

"To support the European Commission in its decision to retain its ban, we ask
European consumers to boycott all products from the United States," said
Coste, president of the young farmers' union, CNJA. 

'Public opinion will rebel' 

He cited items such as Chrysler cars, electronic goods and Florida orange
as examples which should be struck off shopping lists. 

"Public opinion will rebel against this. People are fed up that the Americans
are telling us what we should eat," said Mr Coste. 

The farm union FNSEA joined in the boycott call, describing Washington's
attitude as scandalous and accusing the WTO of complicity. 

The union's director-general, Yves Salmon, said the US was "taking hostage
European farmers who have nothing to do with this conflict". 

Italian pork producers are also weighing up the implications of the tariffs. 

Pork producers will be badly hit by the tariffs
"It would certainly be a negative, unfair move which would damage us
considerably," said Edoardo Marcucci of the National Association of Pig

He said the industry was already in crisis, with prices well below production

In the worst case, he said, Italy might stop exports of products like Parma
to the US. 

Pork will be one the products worst hit by the tariffs, making up about one
quarter of the $116m total. 

US officials say their list is designed to inflict the most economic damage on
France, Germany, Italy and Denmark, as they believe that those nations hold
key to overturning the beef ban. 
> Date Posted: 07/20/1999
> Posted by: 

4)  Rude Awakening  By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
> When Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman wanted to address the
> National
> Press Club in Washington, D.C. to rave about the biotech industry and
> its
> wonders, he called Gene Grabowski. 
> Grabowski, a former Associated Press reporter and currently a
> spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, sits on the
> Press
> Club's speakers committee. 
> Grabowski was happy to oblige Glickman's request. After all, GMA
> and Glickman are bosom buddies on the issue of biotech foods -- they
> both
> agree that since biotech foods are no different from conventional
> foods,
> there is no need for labeling. 
> Last week, Glickman addressed a National Press Club ballroom
> packed with biotech industry and agribusiness executives, with
> reporters
> bringing up the rear. 
> And he didn't disappoint them. Glickman hyped the benefits of
> biotech foods, and downplayed the risks. The title of the speech
> reflects
> his affection for the industry: "How Will Scientists, Farmers, and
> Consumers Learn to Love Biotechnology, and What Happens If They
> Don't?" 
> Some reporters misinterpreted Glickman's "five principles to
> guide
> the oversight of biotechnology in the 21st century" -- an arm's length
> regulatory process, consumer acceptance, fairness to farmers,
> corporate
> citizenship, and fair and open trade -- as meaning the government was
> serious about reining in an industry that has run roughshod over
> public
> health concerns. 
> In fact, the speech could have been written -- was it? -- by the
> Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) or its member companies such
> as
> Monsanto and Genentech. 
> The day after Glickman's speech, a reporter asked BIO president
> Carl Feldbaum whether the speech represented a "big blow" to the
> biotech
> industry. 
> "It was a good speech," Feldbaum said. "We are quite comfortable
> with his five principles. As you get into the details, I could not
> find
> much to quibble with. It is in no way a blow to the biotech industry.
> It
> was quite positive." 
> After the speech was over -- and the pro-biotech audience loved
> it
> -- we joined a group of reporters to seek some clarifications from the
> Secretary. 
> We asked Glickman why the USDA spent $100,000 to help develop
> the
> terminator seed technology -- if farmers plant these seeds, still in
> final
> development, the resulting crop would produce seed that is sterile,
> and
> farmers would be forced to buy new seed from the companies. 
> At first, Glickman handed the question over to his aide, Keith
> Pitts. But we wanted Glickman to answer the question. 
> "I certainly don't like the name of it -- it scares the hell out
> of me," Glickman said. 
> Okay, so the name scares you. But what about the technology
> itself? Does that scare the hell out of you? 
> "We need to study this," he said. 
> But sir, do you think this technology should be allowed onto the
> market? 
> Another Glickman associate yells that "he has answered the
> question." 
> But Glickman realizes he hasn't answered the question. 
> "In the future, we have to be very careful at USDA so that we
> don't finance the kind of arrangements that exclude family farmer
> choices," Glickman said. 
> In his speech, Glickman made the point that genetically
> engineered
> foods are already in the food supply. For 1998 crops, 44 percent of
> U.S.
> soybeans and 36 percent of U.S. corn were produced from genetically
> modified seeds. 
> Are you concerned Mr. Secretary that we are already eating
> genetically modified foods without knowing it, without it being
> labeled? 
> "You may be, I don't know if you are or not," Glickman
> responded.
> "I eat everything. If anything is there, I eat it. I presume it is
> safe
> and good." 
> "By and large, people have confidence in this country's system
> of
> food safety regulation," Glickman said. "The FDA is viewed as
> independent." 
> But the FDA is being sued for allowing biotech foods on the
> market
> without adequate review. And the man who approved the foods at the FDA
> came to the FDA from a law firm where he represented Monsanto, and
> after
> his stint at the FDA, he went to work directly for Monsanto's
> Washington
> office, where he sits today. 
> "All I can say is that the food system is safe," Glickman said. 
> Glickman was dismissive of the Europeans for opposing biotech
> imports from the United States. "When you go over there [to Europe]
> the
> attitude is -- don't confuse me with the facts," Glickman said. 
> In fact, European concerns about food safety are grounded in a
> moral and ethical belief system foreign to corporatists like Glickman.
> The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) has raised the question --
> "do we have the right to experiment with, and commercialize, the
> building
> blocks of life?" 
> "I personally have no wish to eat anything produced by genetic
> modification, nor do I knowingly offer this sort of produce to my
> family
> or guests," Prince Charles has said. 
> When asked about Prince Charles' critique, Glickman was flip. 
> "I don't ask him to be Prince, and he doesn't ask me to be
> Secretary," Glickman said. 
> Before boarding the elevator to leave the Press Club, USDA
> communications director Tom Amontree accused us of being "rude" and
> not
> "nice." 
> In what sense were we rude? 
> You are rude because you were being "very argumentative" and you
> were asking "leading questions," he says. 
> Our view is that Glickman is being rude to the American people
> by
> kowtowing to a powerful and reckless industry that is playing genetic
> roulette with our future. 
>      He is recklessly running roughshod over the precautionary
> principle, which should underpin our regulation of technology. The
> precautionary principle says, in brief: If you have scientific
> uncertainty, and if you have the suspicion of harm, then act with
> caution.
>      Glickman has thrown caution to the wind. Who will hold him
> accountable?
> Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate
> Crime
> Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
> Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The
> Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Common Courage
> Press,
> 1999, <>
> (c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
> Mark Ritchie, President
> Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
> 2105 First Ave. South
> Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404  USA
> 612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax)
>     <>
> ===================
From: Agent Humble <>

5) From the Codex Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and
Marketing of Organically Produced Foods.

At least they can't label it 'organic'

> 1.5 All materials and/or the products produced from genetically
> engineered/modified organisms (GEO/GMO) are not compatible with the
> principles of organic production (either the growing, manufacturing, or
> processing) and therefore are not accepted under these guidelines.

6) TITLE:  GM Short Cut To Help Starving Third World The Express, UK, by John
Ingham  July 16, 1999

----------------- archive: <>

GM Short Cut To Help Starving Third World

British scientists have claimed that a breakthrough in plant
genetics could help tackle Third-World hunger. They say the new
shorter plants that result are better able to withstand storms
and could be crucial in increasing local food production. The
technique - which inserts one plant gene into another plant - is
different to that used for many GM crops currently on the market.
Many of those have been given new properties - like resistance to
pesticide or insects - through the insertion of genes from
species, such as bacteria, with which they could not breed in
nature. However, critics of the GM revolution warned that the
new, shorter, crops still posed a threat because no one can be
sure of the long-term consequences.

The latest breakthrough was achieved at the John Innes Centre in
Norwich, which has isolated the key gene in wheat and believes it
could be used in maize and rice. "We know that dwarf rice and
wheat plants, produced by conventional breeding, are higher
yielding than taller varieties," said Dr Nick Harberd. "Isolating
a single gene that controls plant height means that we can now
convert any locally adapted, low-yielding variety into a dwarf
form and potentially increase its yield." His team told Nature
magazine that the breakthrough could be used in virtually any
crop plant.

7) GM Food Information Dismissed as Propaganda in New Zealand

A plan by supermarkets in New Zealand to distribute over a million copies of
a pamphlet about the genetic modification (GM) of food have been criticized
as an effort to distribute propaganda by safe food activists. One of the
campaigners, Sue Kedgley from the Safe Food Campaign, commented, "I can only
hope consumers will see this leaflet for what it is - biased, undisguised
propaganda…….It's as though they have declared war ... and the first
casualty has been truth." The pamphlet was produced by the New Zealand
Grocery Industry Council. The executive director of the Grocery Marketers'
Association, Brenda Cutress, commented that food manufacturers wanted to
ensure that people were better informed about genetically engineered foods.

Ms Kedgley has criticised the pamphlet as she believes that it ignores the
environmental and health risks in the technology, and focuses instead on
possible future benefits. She refuted a claim in the pamphlet that GM foods
were among the most extensively tested foods sold. She claimed that it
overlooked the fact that GM foods had never undergone long-term testing to
see if they damaged the human immune system, caused cancer, or caused
allergies. She suggested that claims of nutritional advantages in GM foods
did not apply to any of the 52 GM foods currently available on the New
Zealand market.

Countering these adverse claims, Brenda Cutress said that all products on
supermarket shelves met the requirements of the Food Act and the Australia
New Zealand Food Authority. The authority has proposed the use of three
labels saying food did contain, did not contain, or might contain
genetically engineered ingredients. An exception is expected to be made for
modified ingredients such as starches, sugars and oils, as these highly
refined components did not usually contain any genetically modified DNA.

Public reaction to the issue of GM foods in New Zealand accelerated when
Monsanto mounted its billion-dollar European campaign Let the Harvest Begin.
Since then, New Zealand's anti-GMO food lobby has shifted out of the
political arena and into the supermarket aisles in a similar way to that
seen in the UK. In New Zealand, the opponents of GMOs have approached the
major New Zealand supermarket chains directly asking them to phase out GM
food products. They recently reinforced their argument by holding a protest
in a Wellington supermarket, filling a trolley and asking the manager to
guarantee that each product was GM-free. An earlier boycott of Quality
Bakers brands such as Vogel and Molenberg led to a declaration by Goodman
Fielder that its products were GM-free. The giant multinational food company
Nestle is now the focus of protest. The shelves of a Wellington supermarket
recently sprouted orange stickers on the company's products each carrying
two letters, GE.

The Food Manufacturers' Federation is reported to have described the
campaign as "reprehensible" but has reassured consumers that there were no
GM foods on supermarket shelves and no foods containing any altered protein
or DNA. According to the Federation, "The only products that could be on
shelves are ingredients of some genetically modified soy, canola, and corn
oil but those ingredients are exactly the same as the ingredients that you
would get from a non-genetically modified crop."

Opposition to GMOs may also reflect a deep-seated public distrust of
scientists and science. Even sectors of the scientific community concede
that there is public apprehension about a technology that seems to tinker
with evolution. "I'm not opposed to a scientific research in the
laboratory," Ms Kedgley said. "I am concerned when scientists alter plants
and animals in ways which haven't happened in billions of years of evolution
and expect to carry on experimenting without proper controls or questioning.
Some scientists do not even see the consequences as their responsibility.
They want to pass the buck on to the Government and the politicians while
those people who question their work are seen as renegades and Luddites. Bad
science and bad corporate practice are creating a potentially lethal mix."

The labelling of foodstuffs has become a pivotal issue for both camps in the
GM debate. The New Zealand Department of Health has received 1500
submissions on labelling and the Australian New Zealand Food Authority has
proposed to classify GMO food into five main categories. Kedgley is critical
of the labelling proposals and has commented, "They sound plausible and
reassuring but the fact is that most GM ingredients will not be labelled.
The Government is proposing to exempt all food additives and processing
agents, including all preservatives and colourings….They will exempt refined
oils and sugars, yet one of the most common uses for GM soy is as animal
feed, while about 80% cent of vegetable oil produced in the United States is
soy oil. The only way to solve concerns is to have mandatory labelling of
all food products involving gene technology. Failing that, our supermarkets
should follow the example of their counterparts in Britain and phase out
these products. Any action by supermarkets would be dependent on their
individual judgement and corporate focus. We've now asked them to make a
commitment instead of continuing to reply that this is a highly complex

Professor Barry Scott, professor of molecular science at Massey University,
is a member of the Environmental Risk Management Authority. He has suggested
that public unease over GMOs stems from bad corporate practice rather than
bad science. "People know so little about this technology. I blame companies
who have imported this food into New Zealand without adequate consumer
information and with an attitude of take it or leave it….The New Zealand
public feels disempowered with no current food labelling for GMO content.
They feel that they have the right to know what is in their food and that
their right to choose what they eat is being denied. While I agree with
these sentiments, it is important to recognise that this disempowerment is
more the consequence of New Zealand's open market policy rather than a
genetic engineering issue. ….Labelling is a central issue because it
involves choice. I'd hope that we are working towards an acceptable
solution. The new standards seem to contain a robust regulatory system in
terms of assessing the safety of food products. Paramount to this is food
safety. I think that we are moving in the right direction but just how far
do you go with labelling? …It is rational to label foods that are whole
organisms, tomatoes, apples, but food substances such as oils and pastes are
much more difficult to identify for GMO content, as food production and
processing will destroy the DNA, making any analysis impossible."

Professor Scott views the possibility of a moratorium on GM food trials as
potentially harmful for New Zealand. He commented, "New Zealand has one of
the best regulatory systems in the world. We have been at the cutting edge
of regulations. It is important that we do not ignore the new procedures but
take steps to build up an information pool and reliable regulatory

According to Kedgley, the important issues are those of scientific
responsibility and big business. "This is all about patents and the
potential to control the world's food supply. The basic fact is that not a
single GM product holds benefits for the consumer. They all contain
risks………The proponents of GM foods are seriously miscalculating the depth of
feeling about this issue", she said.

The New Zealand Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has also
criticized the new pamphlets. "The paper purports to be unbiased but uses
language of the United States-based food and chemical giant Monsanto," Ms
Fitzsimons said. She continued, "It is full of half-truths and carries only
one side of the genetic engineering debate. If supermarkets stock it, they
should include pamphlets which present the other side…….Questions such as
who profits from the technology, who is testing the products and how the
consumer can avoid genetically engineered foods are not answered in the

Contact: Safe Food Campaign, Revolt Against Genetic Engineering, PO Box
1109, Hastings, New Zealand
Tel: (06) 870 0920
Fax: (06) 870 9923
URL: <>

Brenda Cutress, Executive Director, NZ Grocery Marketers Association (Inc.),
PO Box 11543, Wellington, New Zealand.
Tel: (04) 4739223

The Green Party of Aotearoa / New Zealand, PO Box 11-652, Wellington, New
Tel: (04) 473 7797
URL: <>

(AgBiotechNet July 99)

8) US Food Giants Plan PR Campaign on GM Foods

According to a recent news report, global food and pharmaceutical giants are
planning a major public relations campaign to champion the merits of
biotechnology, in a bid to pre-empt the kind of anti-genetic modification
(GM) backlash seen in Europe. GM foods have come in for scathing criticism
in Europe in recent months, with consumer activists and environmentalists
claiming they may pose health threats or threats to nature. To prevent a
repeat on this side of the Atlantic, the Grocery Manufacturers of America
(GMA), representing 132 firms, including global giants such as Heinz, Kraft
and Procter & Gamble, is planning an educational campaign on the merits of
foods developed from biotechnology, including corn, tomatoes, potatoes and

Three PR firms are reported to be in the final running for the GMA project,
BSMG, Fleishman-Hillard and Porter Novelli. The year long effort is thought
to be worth $1 million. GMA's pre-emptive effort may begin later in June or
July 1999 and will be designed to educate a number of audiences about food
biotechnology, including retailers, policy makers, farmers and consumers.
The goal of the project will be to provide balanced information to
consumers. According to Gene Grabowski, GMA’s VP for communications, the
organization plans to "act before a potential crisis" hits.

Contact: Grocery Manufacturers of America, 1010 Wisconsin Ave NW, Suite 900,
Washington DC 20007, USA.
Tel: +1 (202) 337 9400
Fax: +1 (202) 337 4508

(AgBiotechNet June 99)

9) Thalidomide Victims Call for Ban on GM Foods

UK Thalidomide victims have called for an immediate ban on all genetically
modified foods, warning that more testing was needed. The group has called
for more testing on GM foods to discover how they could affect the future
health of the population, especially that of unborn babies. A spokesman
commented, "We think the government are ignoring the danger signs that GM
foods could be the most dangerous chemicals of all time and are acting

The drug Thalidomide was blamed for birth defects in more than 12,000
babies, many of whom were born without arms or legs and with defective
organs, after it was prescribed widely during the 1950s and 1960s as a
sedative and treatment for morning sickness for pregnant women. The chairman
of Thalidomide UK, Freddie Astbury, said "Scientists warned of dangers of
the drug in 1959. The drug was also tested on rats in the same way as GM
food products, showing signs of the effects it could have. The Government
should take Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose research first ignited public health
fears, more seriously. We try to teach people about the danger of drugs, yet
we eat food with chemicals in which we don't fully understand. The
Government are misunderstanding the fears of the public with GM foods. How
can people trust the Government and the experts after the Thalidomide

(AgBiotechNet July 99)
10) UK GM Labelling Guidance Notes Published The UK Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food (MAFF) has published a set of guidance notes on the
requirements of the legislation for the approval of novel foods and novel food
ingredients, and on the labelling of foods containing genetically modified
and maize. Legislation covering
the labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods was adopted in the UK in
March 1999. The Food Safety Minister, Jeff Rooker, commenting on the release
of the notes, said: "I am pleased to announce the publication of these
Guidance Notes. They provide clear guidance to businesses on the
requirements of the legislation and should assist local authorities in
enforcing these rules…Local authorities have received enough copies of the
Guidance Notes on the labelling of foods containing GM soya and maize for
all food businesses in their area."

A copy of the guidance notes can be viewed at
ovel/GNsoya.htm. The notes give examples of the
text that should be used for products which are known to contain GM
ingredients and suggest suitable ways in which restaurants can alert
customers to the presence of GM ingredients in menus.

Trading standards officers have called on the government to ensure that
consumer bodies play a part in framing the definition of "GM Free" on food
and drink labels. Responding to the publication of the guidelines on GM
labelling, members of the Institute of Trading Standards Administration
(ITSA) have suggested that the new labelling requirements could cause
confusion. Steve Butterworth, a spokesman for ITSA, commented that the
Institute had warned the Ministry of Agriculture about possible confusion
when new labelling regulations were introduced in March. According to
Butterworth, "The new regulations allowed for so many different
interpretations of 'GM free', that we believed the public would be unable to
make an informed judgement. What's more, unease over the whole subject of GM
foods means that some manufacturers will exploit these concerns by marketing
their products aggressively as ‘GM Free’. Yet the Government is encouraging
the manufacturers themselves to frame 'voluntary guidelines' and if they are
also to be responsible for policing them, then that will do nothing to
rebuild lost confidence in the food industry."

ITSA is also concerned about the different approaches being taken by other
members of the European Union (EU). Germany has proposed that up to 2% of GM
trace elements will still qualify a food as ‘GM Free’, whereas Switzerland
is pursuing a policy of zero tolerance. Butterworth wants the UK government
to act quickly, firstly to involve consumer organizations in framing the
labelling guidelines and second, to ensure that there is uniformity across
the EU. He suggests that "a single market is meaningless if assurances of
purity mean different things in different member states".

Butterworth is also concerned that trading standards officers will not be
able to enforce the new GM food labelling laws unless they receive more
funding. He said, "If the Government wants local authorities to enforce
these new GM labelling laws then it will have to ensure that we have
sufficient funds to do so. Over recent years Trading Standards has seen its
resources cut, we cannot afford to do the monitoring that we want to do, and
that the public expects us to do. Public expectations over GM labelling have
been fuelled by recent government announcements, but so far we've not
received a genetically modified bean."

The environmental organization, Friends of the Earth (FoE) has called upon
the government to take urgent action and impose a levy on GM food producers
to pay for monitoring of the labelling regulations. . Adrian Bebb, food
campaigner at FoE said: "The government has assured consumers that GM
labelling will work. But without proper funding to pay for monitoring it
will simply be another hollow promise. Most people don't want to eat GMOs,
yet they are still creeping into our food. The biotech industry is profiting
from this technology, so they should pay for the policing of the new laws on
GM food."

Free copies of the Guidance Notes (Labelling of foods containing genetically
modified soya and maize - PB 4447 and Novel Foods and Novel Food
Ingredients - PB 4520) can be obtained from:
MAFF Publications, Admail 6000, London, SW1A 2XX, UK.
Tel: +44 0645 556000 (from within UK) or +44 (0) 181 694 8862 (outside the

Contact: Additives and Novel Foods Division, Branch C, Joint Food Safety and
Standards Group, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Room 239c,
Ergon House, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR, UK.
Tel: +44 (0) 171 238 6224
Fax: +44 (0) 171 238 6382

The Institute of Trading Standards Administration. 4/5 Hadleigh Business
Centre, 351 London Road, Hadleigh, Essex SS7 2BT, UK.
URL: <>

Friends of the Earth, Information and Enquiries Unit, 26-28 Underwood
Street, London, N1 7JQ, UK.
Tel: +44 (0) 171 490 1555
Fax: +44 (0) 171 490 0881
URL: <>

(AgBiotechNet July 99)

Date: 20 Jul 1999 04:03:00 -0500


The Scottish Green Party today launched a petition calling on the
Scottish Parliament to find time to discuss the future of GM crops and
food in Scotland. The Welsh Assembly passed a motion calling for a
"GM-free Wales" before it went into recess, but the Business Managers
at the Scottish Parliament denied time for a similar submitted by
Green MSP Robin Harper. By raising the profile of GM with the public,
the Greens hope to put pressure on the Scottish Parliament so that the
debate gets timetabled  after the recess.

MSP Robin Harper was  quoted:

"If the Scottish food and farming industry wants to promote its
high-quality status with the buying public, it needs to catch up on
Wales. With the backing of the WNFU the Welsh have stolen a march on
us and will definitely gain in the public perception. Scotland is
hiding its light behind a bushel. We have tremendous potential for
more organic production because so many farms are already so close to
being organic. Our Parliament needs to get behind farmers and help
them to produce what the public wants. We need to set targets and the
support to get there."

SGP Food Spokesperson Dr Nina Baker added:

"The petition is deliberately worded to be very general, so that many
different organisations will feel able to take it up as their own and
add to the pressure on the Scottish Parliament. We will be taking
street stalls around the country and circulating the petition widely."


Further information from:
Dr Nina Baker  SGP Food Spokesperson 0141 954 4602
SGP Office 0131 478 7896

Information for Editors:
Text of petition is attached
Petition will be promoted at a street stall near to the forthcoming
Farmers' Market, near Kyle shopping centre, Ayr, Sat 24th July 11-1pm

Dr Nina Baker
Food spokesperson
Scottish Green Party
1636 Great Western Rd
Glasgow G13 1HH
tel 014 954 4602 (h) fax by arrangement
tel 0141 330 4727 (w)(Mon, Wed, Fri)