SnowBall archive


GE - news 28th Feb

1) The Spud America didn't like 2/25/99 
2) EU split delays overhaul of GMO policy
3) First Genetic Engineering Free zone declared in New Zealand
5) Soy estrogens & pesticides suspected in UK genital defects
6) Sunday menu on Genetic manipulation - 4 items from INDEPENDENT
7)  Banana 'war' threatens to wreck world trade system
8) Brit Advertising Standards Authority slams Monsanto By John Arlidge 
Observer (London) Sunday February 28, 1999
9) Japanese unit of Novartis fined for underreporting income 
10) Genetic Engineering: The Unheard Dangers - Hidden Danger in Your Milk? ...
Jane Akre & Steve Wilson were fired for refusing to distort what they learned
about rBGH.

 "A human drug requires two years of carcinogenic testing and extensive birth
defect testing. BGH was tested for 90 days on 30 rats at any dose before it
approved."  Dr. William von Meyer, Research Scientist
The US wasn't worrying about GM food. Now the genie is out of the bottle. 
By Emily Green. The New Statesman

1) The Spud America didn't like 2/25/99 

 The British tend to assume that something "American" is either odious, or 
 new and improved. In the case of genetically modified foods, the public 
 thinks the former, the Prime Minister thinks the latter. But how are 
 "Frankenfoods" seen in America itself~ 
 In most cases, they aren't seen at all. Estimates vary as to how many cows 
 in the US are regularly injected with the genetically engineered growth 
 hormone "Posilac", or bovine somatotropin (BST). Monsanto couldn't tell me. 
 It might be 7 per cent, it might be 15, it might be 30. Anywhere from 
 700,000 to three million cows receive it, and their milk is not labelled, 
 nor is the cheese or yoghurt that's made from it. 
 An estimated 45-50 million acres of GM crops (ofthe 69.5 million planted 
 globally) now grow in the US. These, too, go unnoticed by the average 
 citizen. They are grown on huge, isolated farms and then sold in bulk to 
 distributors and processors from where they slip undeclared into all manner 
 of products - as soy beans into sauces, as potatoes into chips at 
 McDonald's, as corn into tins of minestrone, as cotton into garments. 
 According to Monsanto, this is because GM crops are safe and desirable. 
 According to their detractors, they do so because of decades of political 
 cosiness between government and agri-business. 
 Both sides agree, though, that Monsanto won the first round of the battle in 
 1993, when BST became, in Monsanto's words, "the first product of 
 biotechnology approved for commercial sale". Ronnie Cummins, director of the 
 Campaign for Food Safety, a pressure group based in Minnesota and 
 Washington, DC, is still fighting its use. "It's crack for cows," he says. 
 "You can make some money if you're going to discard your cows after two or 
 three years. The only reason Monsanto keeps it on the market is that it 
 would be a disaster to admit that it was wrong." 
 Most of the developed world appears to agree with him. No industrialised 
 country outside the US has licensed Posilac BST. Last December the Canadian 
 government again declined to approve it. 
 In the US, according to Cummins, media and public awareness of GM foods 
 seemed to begin and end with that battle over BST. "When the soy and corn 
 and cotton started to be planted on a widespread basis, there was no media 
 Last autumn, this changed. On 25 October 1998, the New York Times published 
 an 8,579-word article about Monsanto's "New Leaf" potato, a spud containing 
 a transgene for a soil bacterium fatal to certain beetles, Bacillus 
 thuringiensis (Bt). "There are not many articles that make a difference," 
 says Margaret Mellon, a molecular biologist at the Union of Concerned 
 Scientists in Washington, DC. "Everybody read it. People began to think 
 differently and harder." 
 "I worked on it for ever," Michael Pollan, the author, recalls. "I spent a 
 couple of months persuading them [Monsanto] to co-operate. 
 "When I got into it, I was just shocked. I come from New England, where the 
 farms are really small." Monsanto took him to the vast potato farms of the 
 west, where the transgene Bt potatoes were one way to cut down the use of 
 pesticides and herbicides, which were not only toxic, but ruinously 
 expensive. He met farmers who felt "trapped by the chemical inputs required 
 to extract the high yields they must achieve in order to pay for the 
 chemical inputs they need. The economics were daunting: a potato farmer in 
 south-central Idaho will spend roughly $1,965 an acre (mainly on chemicals, 
 electricity, water and seed) to grow a crop that, in a good year, will earn 
 him maybe $1,980." 
 Anybody who reads Pollan's accounts of farmers trapped between chemical and 
 transgenic technologies - neither method strictly chemical-free, both 
 dependent on science that the farmers did not understand - is likely to 
 conclude that organic farming looks very appealing. 
 The bombshell was Pollan's explanation of how transgenic products could be 
 entering the food chain unlabelled. Pollan found that the gene was not 
 considered a "food additive" but a pesticide. It was therefore not under 
 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) jurisdiction. He was referred to the 
 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "When I called the EPA," he wrote, 
 "and asked if the agency had tested my Bt potatoes for safety as a human 
 food, the answer was . . . not exactly. It seems the EPAworks from the 
 assumption that if the original potato is safe and the Bt protein added to 
 it is safe, then the whole New Leafpackage is presumed to be safe." 
 "This is a regime set up by the former Republican vice-president Dan Quayle, 
 an enemy of regulation," Pollan explains to me. "Every agency thought it was 
 the job of the next agency." 
 Legislators have slept through the controversy, say critics of GM. "The 
 Democratic Party has decided this is one of the star technologies that it 
 wants to support," says Pollan. "You just don't get a meaningful political 
 debate when both political parties are on the same side." 
 But media interest has perked up since Pollan's article. Reports critical of 
 Monsanto have appeared in the mainstream media, not least onABC nightly 
 news, and in Time and the Washington Post. According to Ronnie Cummins, two 
 separate lawsuits are being filed, one demanding bovine growth hormone be 
 withdrawn from the market, the other that all crops containing the Bt gene 
 be banned. He is still relishing a recent Monsanto humiliation, an own-goal 
 in which the corporation lobbied to change organic standards to accept 
 transgene crops. The bigger the humiliation in Europe, and the more 
 controversy about GM food production, Cummins thinks, the better for 
 America. "I think we're going to see a situation in the US where organic - 
 real organic - is going to be a gigantic market," he says. 
This weeks European Voice:
2) EU split delays overhaul of GMO policy
By Simon Coss
DEEP divisions between EU governments over how best to update the Union's 
rules on the sale and production of genetically modified crops and seeds 
have delayed a decision on the European Commission's proposals until June 
at the earliest. It had been widely assumed that EU environment ministers 
would discuss the Commission's plans to revise the 1990 directive (90/220) 
on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at their 11 March meeting. 
However, the item is notably absent from the agenda and the German 
presidency has confirmed that the plan will not now be discussed until late 
June. EU officials say there are two main sticking points holding up 
agreement. These concern how long a licence to market a new GM product 
should last and how 90/220 should deal with the ethical aspects of 
authorising new crop strains. On the licensing question, the Com-mission 
has proposed that producers of GMO crops should be required to reapply for 
marketing approval for their products every seven years. However, member 
states' reactions to this differ widely. "Some want no compulsory time 
limits, but would accept 15 years at a pinch. Others want to stick to seven 
years," said one official. On the ethical question, some governments want 
90/220 to state explicitly that a member state can refuse to approve a GM 
product on ethical grounds every time a company applies to licence a new 
strain. Luxembourg and Austria, which both have blanket bans in place on 
the cultivation and marketing of genetically modified crops, are the most 
vocal members of this faction. Other governments argue this approach would 
effectively allow EU governments to, in the words of one official, "ban 
GMOs because they do not like them". They claim such an approach would have 
serious repercussions on both the functioning of the EU's single market and 
on international trade. "It would make the WTO banana dispute look like a 
storm in a teacup," said one expert. Supporters of this second view say the 
ethical dimension should be dealt with by the EU's existing ethics 
committee, which could be called on to provide advice on an ad hoc basis. 
Aside from these two major stumbling blocks, EU governments must also 
decide before June whether to accept amendments to the Commission's 
proposals for revising 90/220 called for by the European Parliament. The 
report approved by MEPs contains certain suggestions, notably on making the 
biotechnology industry liable for any environmental damage caused by its 
products, which some governments are likely to find hard to swallow. In 
recent months, public fears about the safety of food containing GMOs have 
increased dramatically. Anti-GMO fever is running particularly high in the 
UK at the moment, but there have also been protests against the new foods 
in France, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark and Greece.
European Voice

3) First Genetic Engineering Free zone declared in New Zealand
15 February 1999

The Community Council of Waihiki Island, a 6000 people island just 
off-shore of Auckland, New Zealand, has recently declared it wants to be a
GE-Free Zone (Genetic Engineering Free Zone).
This means that the Waihiki Islanders do not wish to be exposed to the 
dangers of Genetically Engineered Organisms (which the GBC - Government 
Business Complex whitewashingly calls GMOs - Genetically Modified Organisms).
The first GE-Free zone is expected to spread over the whole of New Zealand, 
which will then effectively become a GE-Free country.
A move to an entirely GE-Free status will probably draw strong opposition 
from the business-government-complex. However, given the strong and
world market demand for green and clean produce, the GE-Free status of New 
Zealand is likely to become a major playing card in the international market 
place. More and more people doubt the economic and environmental "wisdom" of 
industrial agriculture and have a deep distrust of political and corporate

doctors. There are promising signs in New Zealand agriculture and among some 
government officals that the competitive advantages and market premium of 
organic produce are being recognised. Because of its island status New
could become the one and only green and clean supplier of safe food for an 
increasingly toxified world.
The recent British disaster of the Mad Cow Disease was partially caused by 
risk denials of government-aligned "scientists". Small wonder that the 
British have become very suspicious of manipulations with their food. 
A groundswell of popular opinion in New Zealand likens politicians to 
liers, understandably, after many years of broken promises.
Thus the future of Genetic Engineering Biotechnology does not look bright, 
to the detriment of conventional economics, with its tendency to account 
for financial GDP Gross Domestic Product results only.
But this development is a promising sign on our way to a more sustainable

society, living with chemicals-free natural and organically grown produce.
Bon appetit ... and Cheers ... Eric Auciel

DECCAN HERALD, February 7, 1999 
The trials on genetically engineered Bt cotton by Monsanto, the US 
multinational seed company, at experimental sites in nine states in India, 
including Karnataka, are considered safe because no terminator gene 
technology is involved. But what are the hazards of genetic engineering 
itself, even if it does not involve terminator genes? VANDANA SHIVA, the 
noted feminist-ecologist threw light on the issues involved.
What makes the trials by Monsanto illegal?
Even from the viewpoint of a totally inadequate bio-safety regulation 
framework in this country, these trials are totally illegal. As long as 
genetic engineering is taking place in labs or in farms that are totally 
contained, the approval is governed by the Review Committee on Genetic 
Manipulation (RCGM) of the Department of Biotechnology. The moment you get 
into the open environment, which is he case with these trials, what becomes 
active is the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) governed by the 
Ministry of Environment under the Environment Protection Act.All the 
clearances have been granted with the stamp of Dr. Ghosh, who Is the 
adviser to the Department of Biotechnology, which means that in this 
particular case, it was the wrong committee. The approval should have come 
through here (GEAC, MoE) even in the case of the initial import of Bt seed.

The second reason why even the above procedure is not adequate is because 
there is not public participation, The proposal I've sent to the MoE is 
basically to say that this needs to go all the way down to the grama sabha 
decision so that Monsanto could not have gone to an individual farmer and 
taken his field without the entire grama sabha meeting and being told about 
what this is. At the national level too, we need notification of these 
trials and releases so that there can be public hearings.
Even though these are tiny seeds, it does not mean they are not hazardous. 
There impact is huge because they are living organisms and once released 
there is no recall and the genetic pollution implications and ecological 
damages are not known. These have to be treated exactly as you would treat 
environmentally hazardous projects.
The real news you have to break is that the approval (for these trials) has 
been granted after the sowing. The sowing takes place in June and July, 
but the approval is dated mid-August and has Been given within a day or two 
of the application. The above two reasons are enough to shut these trials 
down as illegal across the board. Even if the right process had been gone 
through and the approval granted before the sowing, there are serious 
reasons for stopping these trails at this point for scientific reasons.
Could you elaborate?
The entire regulatory system is based on the assumption of "substantial 
equivalence". That is, they assume that that genetically engineered (GE) 
plant behaves like the conventional plant - that GE cotton will behave like 
natural cotton, which is not at all true.
The second argument they use is that genetically engineered organisms have 
greater predictability compared to species evolved by traditional 
techniques. This is an outright lie. What has predictability is you 
have taken a gene from organism A and put it into organism B. That's all 
you are sure about. You don't know where the gene got located in the 
genome because, you know, they use the particle guns to just bombard and 
put them in.
The second unpredictable issue is - once it is introduces, no one can 
predict how the organism will behave overall. For example, there is another 
cotton that Monsanto has put out called Round Up Ready cotton which is 
resistant to Monsanto's herbicide round up. When they put this out last 
year, thousands of hectars of cotton field because they made the cotton 
plant resistant to Round up but they didn't realize that by doing that 
they were making the plant unstable and the cotton bolls kept falling off 
the cotton plant. This instability can either activate genes that are not 
functioning or it can inactivate functioning genes, a phenomenon called 
In the case of Bt itself, the original Bacillus thuringiensis is a natural 
organism, a soil bacteria being used in organic farming as a spray. But 
when it is engineered into plants, it becomes different. Its protein which 
exists in the crystalline, non-soluble form in its organic form, begins to 
exist in soluble form when internalized into the plant structure. In 
soluble form, Btu toxins reduce the activity of membrane-bound proteins and 
red blood cells. That is, they basically decrease the resistance to 
rupturing of our cells. This is important because we feed our cattle the 
oil cake from cotton seed. It is also important for us because they are 
increasingly using non-edible oils like cottons in the solvent extraction 
industry to make refined oils. We don't know when we'll be eating Bt 
sources in our oil from cotton. That's the health angle.
The third problem is, while the organic Bt is sprayed 3 or 4 times in a 
season, this toxins being produced all the time in every cell of the 
plant. And having been produced that systematically, it is creating 
emergence of resistance in precisely the pests you want to control like the 
boll worm. Within two seasons in the US, the emergence of resistance has 
been so huge that the Environment Protection Agency which had said you must 
leave 4 percent of your land outside GE crops to control the emergence of 
resistance, is now saying you must leave 50 percent of land under non 
- -genetically engineered crops for the management of resistance.
The biggest debate in the US is that an ecologically sound method of pest 
control through natural Bt is being corrupted by an ecologically unsound 
method of pest control through GE Bt crops, The GE crops will lose their 
value even faster than pesticides because pesticides lost their value 
presicely because they led to emergence of resistance in pests. That is 
why Warangal farmers were committing suicides because they were using more 
and more sprays which were not killing the pests. They were killing the 
beneficial insects and that's exactly what Bt is also doing.
Because GE crops are going to species on such a wide scale, the UK has a 
two-year moratorium on this. France has already banned GE Crops. 
Australia has a ban on GE foods. It is not uninformed hysteria. It is 
basically `sound science' that is forcing governments to take a second 
Other ecological risks are: all the plots have only 5 mts for separating 
them from the next field. There is data that pollination is happening upto 
2.5 km from the site of GE crops. What can end up happening is, you will 
put Bt resistance into all kinds of other crops. In the case of Round up 
Ready crops you are going to put herbicide resistance into weeds. You are 
going to very rapidly have agriculture overtaken by super sets, created 
through Bt technology and super-weeks, created through Round up Ready 
technology . In either case, it is an instability that we cannot afford.
You say GE crops are unpredictable. Then how come scientists claim that 
they can obtain the desired characteristics?
Well, they assume they are getting the desired characteristics but there 
are other characteristics they don't look for. When you talk of hazards, 
it is the unanticipated impacts that you really need to look for. This 
thing is interacting with the rest of the environment, with hundreds of 
species, with the micro-organisms, the flora and fauna. They have assumed 
that all this doesn't matter. Scientifically, what we're finding is that 
that's not good enough. What you really need to know is, where did the 
gene really locate itself? How did it change the genomic interactions, the 
interactions within the organisms, and how did it change the phenotype 
interactions, they interactions of the organism with the larger 
environment? My guess is there must be hundreds of expense of organisms 
behaving differently after introduction trans genes.
But isn't this kind of genetic evolution taking place in nature all the 
time? What makes it hazardous only when human beings resort to it?
No, your chicken genes don't enter potatoes in nature all the time. 
Transgenes are not a product of nature. Pollination and hybridization are 
product of nature. Conventional breeding allows you to cross wheat with 
wheat. See, the main thing is, under normal healthy conditions, genes do 
not move around across spices barriers. Species barrier is the key. GE 
allows you to put animal genes into crops, bacteria and viral genes into 
crops, and that basically means you have crossed the species barrier. Once 
you have crossed the species barrier with geneses you want to move, you are 
also reducing the threshold for genes you don't want moving. Once you have 
intentionally moved GENE G from organism A to organism b, then Gene C 
decides, I'll move too. That's why you are getting severe ecological 
impact, environment al threats and health treats. A DNA from yeast has 
moved into 5 higher plants as a result of GE. That's why governments are 
throwing up their hands and banning. The mad cow disease was related to 
the kind of stresses we are talking about now.
The second real problem is the vectors through which you carry genes from A 
to B are viral vectors. These are themselves living systems. You are not 
carrying a tray and saying. `Mr. Gene, come here from A to B". You are 
taking a living thing that was interacting `here' and is interfacing 
`there' and it is setting up all kinds of interactions. There's data that 
shows that thesevectors that are carrying the genes are interacting with 
the host organisms and crating super-viruses.
They had to destroy an entire lab in the National Institute of Health in 
the US when they found that research they were doing on rats which had been 
infected with The Aids virus,. The normal Aids virus is communicable only 
through liquids such as blood, semen, etc. but the super-Aids virus that 
had been created through GE, as an unintended side-effect, was moving 
through the air. They had to destroy the entire lab.
None of our bio-safety laws at his point have frame work for assessing 
these impacts and that's going to be one of our major agendas in mobilsinsg 
the scientific community. There are clear indications that we are going to 
have new kinds of disease emerging. That's why in the Convention on 
Biological Diversity, there are two clauses that say that countries must 
regulate this technology very strictly. If all these things were not that 
serious, why would the European community be banning crop after crop? Why 
on earth would the UN be negotiating Biosafet Regulations of a very strict 
kind? For anyone who understands what's going on, it's serious, 
Scientifically, the more you know, the more you worry. It's only in 
ignorance that you can sy it's alreigh.
What is it you propose to do right now about these trials?
Our call is basically this: because the science of GE organisms is in its 
infancy, you don't even know what the interactions with organisms are. 
Even the technology of GE is in its infancy - just 10 years old..... The 
trials, by the way, are not looking at environmental safety. The only 
indicators they are looking at is how much bollworm exists in the field and 
what is the yield and fibre length o the cotton. full stop. Nothing to do 
with when it does to the soil organisms, the bees, butterflies and birds. 
What are the pollination distances? What are the toxic impacts on food and 
fee? Each of these investigations would require a minimum of 3-5 years. 
It cannot be done in a single season.
Because of all this and because the trials are illegal in any case, our 
calls that these trials should stop and there should be no field trials of 
GE crops while they go back and work out the full ecological assessment 
format and start looking at it under contained conditions. And in these 
five years, there should be moratorium on the sales of GE crops and seeds 
in India. This is the minimal requirement for making sound scientific 
decisions abut an emerging technology. It's not an exaggerated demand and 
if the companies cannot take this much, it means they don't care - at all- 
about the environment and public health. And if the regulatory agencies go 
along saying we can't afford a 5 year moratorium, they're basically also 
willing to play with the environment and people's health.....
You have used the term `Onotological schizophrenia' with reference to GE. 
Could you explain?
One issue that is fascinating is ... the companies say , `This (GE Crop) is 
now because we have introduce a new element". So they claim it as new and 
take a patent. And when you talk of bio-safety - "You've deployed this 
new thing, now let's see what it does to the environment" then they say, 
"No, no, no, it's just like nature made it". One of the debates that I've 
had systematically with them for five years is " Make up your mind. If 
it's like nature made it, then you can't own it. If it's noel and you want 
to won it, then you also have risks." And the big fight in the Bio-safety 
Protocol which will kill it or make it is the fight over liability. 
Tomorrow there may be a huge epidemic related to a particular food or it'll 
turn out that an explosion of a particular pest was related to one of these 
GE crops At that point, you need liability which is the one thing the 
companies don't want. The same thing they want to won for profits, they 
don't want to own for social and environmental responsibility. I cal lit 
`ontological schizoprenia' - split mind - that wants to claim the world is 
tow different thins according to whether it's rights you are claiming or 
responsibility you are shelving. The issues, of course, are very fine and 
GE is a `baby science' which has been rushed to Wall Street. Now you don't 
have `science' or `lab science' - you have `Wall Street Science'. And it's 
too risky to play with Wall Street scene particularly in countries with 
high genetic diversity like India. Th US doesn't have to worry about 
biodiversity impact, because they have no biodiversity. (WHAT A REDICULOUS 
How do you plan to stop Monsanto from selling their products before 5 years?
The first: there's already a very large open letter signature campaign for 
the environment minister saying " you were supposed to look after this, you 
are absent from the scene. Mr. Suresh Prabhu please take charge of 
environmental matters related to Genetic Engineering". The second thing 
we are doing is to put together an independent scientific committee 
specially of Monsanto trials. But also addressing the larger issue of GE. 
The third thing we are doing are the legal actions besides supporting the 
formers who have been sued. We are also going to initiate action on how 
the `bad' guidelines were violated and how we need better ones in any case.
We will be working with consumers school and college students and farmers 
to provide them more basic information. I can tell you nobody wants 
pototes with fish genes or tomatoes with chicken genes. You don't have to 
tell people what to think. You only need to provide them with more 
information. We are going to work with farmers to take and get guarantees 
undertaken by seeds suppliers. But I don't believe in imposing decisions. 
I believe in democratic evolution on the basis of widely disperesed 
The issue is we will not consume the food unless we get a guarantee that it 
is free from GE. And therefore we want labelling. No society can say that 
citizens don't have a right to know what they are eating and if it does say 
that then it is no more a democracy. It is a food dictatorship.
This will become even more important in the context of the terminator. 
Even though none of these trials involve the terminator. But recently, 
Robert Shapiro (CEO of Monsato), announced in England that they are not 
stopping the research on terminator and it is still their trumpcard in the 
control of agriculture.
Proponents of GE Crops that GE is the only solutions for overcoming food 
That is one more total cook up . The Bt corn actually had a reduction of 
26% yield. None of these technologies are yield increasing technologies. 
70% of research is aimed at herbicide resistant crop to make crops that 
will sell more chemicals for these countries. About 25 percent is on Bt 
crps and about 5 percent is on viral resistant crops. This is what they 
are selling as banana vaccine, potato vaccine, etc. then there are cases 
where Monsanto had to pay up for yield reductions with GE. In cotton, for 
example, I know three foarmes who got 2 million dollars out of Monsanto.
They see population will increase 4 fold and biotechnology will increase 
food yield 4 fold. This is not at all true. The highest acreage under GE 
crops today in the world today is cotton and tobacco which is not feeding 
people in any case.
What' the alternative?
There is enough data to show that there is an ecological way to increase 
food yields tremendously and that is related to bio diversity 
intensification., ecological intensification on basis of organic 
agriculture. There is FAO data on small farm yields. Much higher and 
smaller the farm because there's intensification through labor. Industrial 
monoculture require 300 units of inputs for an output of 100 units of food, 
where as ecological intensive agriculture requires only 5 unit of input to 
produce the same 100 unit of food. The biotechnologists are like the 
automobile manufacturers, what we need are the climate change experts.
Date: 27 Feb 1999 17:05:02 -0600 
From: (Judy Kew) 
5) Soy estrogens & pesticides suspected in UK genital defects

This carried a somewhat misleading title as below and so I have taken out 
perhaps the pertinent comment, and put it first. 
If the Precautionary Principle had been correctly applied to messing with 
our food then we would not be in this confusion today.

"The researchers think that crop pesticides or naturally 
occurring chemicals called phytoestrogens may be involved. 
Phytoestrogens are generally thought to be behind hormonal 
imbalances leading to defects. They are found in many foodstuffs 
favoured by vegetarians, particularly soya. "
- ---
Subject: Study links vegetarian mothers to genital defects in sons 
LONDON, Feb 26 (AFP) - Vegetarian mothers appear more likely to 
have a baby boy born with a genital defect than meat-eating mothers, 
according to a new study published Thursday. 
Researchers at the Institute of Child Heath at Bristol 
University in western England found in an investigation of more than 
7,900 mothers that vegetarians were nearly five times more likely to 
give birth to a boy with a malformed penis, in a condition known as 
Hypospadias is a condition where the opening of the penis is on 
the underside rather than the tip. It can be corrected by surgery. 
The research team has said more work is needed to support their 
finding or to show it as a "rogue result". Although only 51 boys 
were found with the abnormality, the researchers maintain the number 
is statistically significant. 
Project leader Professor Jean Golding said: "We know vegetables 
are good for all sorts of reasons and we are certainly not 
advocating that people stop eating vegetables. 
"We think, however, that such studies may help us find answers 
to this distressing condition." 
She added that the majority of mothers of the affected boys were 
meat-eaters. Proportionately, however, vegetarian mothers were 
nearly five times more at risk of producing a boy with the 
"There is no reason whatever for saying that this is anything to 
do with not eating meat. However it appears that vegetarian mothers 
are more at risk of having a child with this genital abnormality." 
The researchers think that crop pesticides or naturally 
occurring chemicals called phytoestrogens may be involved. 
Phytoestrogens are generally thought to be behind hormonal 
imbalances leading to defects. They are found in many foodstuffs 
favoured by vegetarians, particularly soya. 
Golding concluded: "We will have to investigate further to see 
whether this is a rogue result." 
The study involved data from the Institute's "Children of the 
90s" study. 
One of the largest of its type in the world, it has been 
following 14,000 mothers in western England from pregnancy and birth 
of their children to childhood. 
Date: 27 Feb 1999 21:17:28 -0600 
From: MichaelP <> 

6) Sunday menu on Genetic manipulation - 4 items from INDEPENDENT
One brit newspaper has several items which I'm combining. It's amazing 
when you compare such publication with the almost complete silence on the 
subject in the U$A. But they have more important fish to fry, don't they?
But it's just possible that the brit's discussion may be helpful to 
non-brits. Thepossibility of GM problems is not limited by national 
Sunday Independent (London) Feb 28, 1999
Third World rejects GM
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent
The world's hungriest nations have resolved to oppose genetically modified 
foods. A senior Ethiopian government official last night told the 
Independent on Sunday they were "absolutely united" in resisting US plans 
to "decide what we eat".
Dr Tewolde Gebre Egziabher was speaking after last week's talks collapsed 
in Cartagena, Colombia, following the United States' accusation that the 
developing countries were endangering free trade. An international treaty 
to regulate trade in GM produce had been discussed by 132 nations.
The revolt will strike a chord in the West, with many associating the 1980 
Ethiopia famines - which sparked Live Aid - with severe food shortages. 
Some biotechnology firms have consistently argued that GM crops' increased 
resistance to parasites and disease makes them suitable for the Third 
Dr Egziabher, the senior Third World negotiator at the talks, said Third 
World resistance to the imposition of GM crops was increasing. Last week 
the government of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, the country's second 
largest soya-producing region, said it would ban the planting of GM beans 
produced by the US giant, Monsanto. And India's Supreme Court stopped 
trials of GM cotton.
The Third World's tough stance undermines the biotech companies' 
justification for GM crops - that they will help end world hunger; Dr 
Egziabher said that instead they could worsen the plight of the hungry.
The developing countries insisted the US and other food exporters ship GM 
foods separately from normal ones, and seek their "prior informed consent" 
before exporting. But the US and five other exporting countries - 
including Canada, Australia and Argentina - fear Third World countries 
would boycott GM produce.

Sunday Independent (London) Feb 28, 1999
GM Foods - The price of disaster will not be paid by those responsible
There is a gaping hole in the law, says Justine Thornton. Farmers, not 
seed companies, may be held to blame for any damage
Who takes responsibility if the worst does happen and huge "superweeds" 
darken our skyline and our wildlife disappears as a result of GM crops? 
The law governing genetically modified organisms avoids this question, 
with the result that nothing can be done about the loss of any wildlife 
and farmers, rather than the seed companies, may find themselves in the 
firing line.
The UK was one of the first countries in the European Community to develop 
a legal framework for genetic engineering and laws governing the 
deliberate release of genetically modified organisms have been in place 
since 1990. Anyone wishing to release GM organisms into the environment, 
or market them, must apply to the Government for consent. The application 
must be advertised in local newspapers and must include an assessment of 
the risks to human health and the environment.
The laws do not, however, go on to consider who will take responsibility 
for the consequences of growing the crops. In the absence of any specific 
legislation, it is the farmers who plant the crops who may well be liable 
for any damage caused to the environment. A farmer could be sued by 
neighbouring farmers whose organic crops have been killed by powerful 
herbicides sprayed on the genetically modified crops, or by residents 
whose gardens have become overrun by "superweeds".
If a farmer is sued, it will not matter how careful he has been in 
spraying the herbicide or how many precautions he has taken to contain his 
crops. The very fact that the damage has happened will be enough to make 
him liable, providing the damage is reasonably foreseeable. He may have to 
pay for the loss of earnings suffered by the farmer whose crops were 
killed. He may have to pay for the cost to local residents of clearing up 
their gardens. What he will not have to pay for is the birds who disappear 
because the insects on which they feed have been killed by the herbicides. 
As the law stands, no one will be responsible for the loss of birds or any 
other wildlife.
It is worrying that our wildlife can disappear and nothing can be done 
about it. It raises important public policy issues, as does the question 
of whether we want farmers, the seed companies or society to bear the 
burden of the developing technology for modifying genes. Such huge issues 
should be properly debated in Parliament and reflected in legislation.
There is no sign of this happening and, instead, courts up and down the 
country will have to grapple with these questions. Yet the courts 
themselves have recognised that they are not the right forum. The House of 
Lords made this clear in a recent case on environmental pollution, stating 
that ". it is more appropriate for liability in respect of operations of 
high risk to be imposed by Parliament than by the courts. The protection 
of the environment is now perceived as being of crucial importance to the 
future of mankind . given that so much well-informed and carefully 
structured legislation is now being put in place for this purpose, there 
is less need for the courts to develop a principle to achieve the same end 
and indeed it may well be undesirable that they should do so".
The introduction of a legal liability regime will not, however, solve all 
the problems. Cleaning up the environment can cost a lot of money which, 
at the end of the day, may depend upon the availability of insurance. Over 
time the insurance industry may develop new policies which specifically 
cover the risks from GM crops. At present, however, most insurance 
policies exclude from their coverage any damage to the environment caused 
by contamination or pollution unless it arises from a sudden event. 
"Superweeds" may be regarded as a form of contamination. In the 
circumstances, one way forward could be to follow the approach of 
international maritime law to the clean-up of oil spills. The seed 
companies would have to pay money into a "compensation fund" before being 
allowed to market any genetically modified crops.
* Justine Thornton is a barrister specialising in environmental law at 
Simmons & Simmons Solicitors. She is co-author of 'Environmental Law'.

Sunday Independent (London) Feb 28, 1999
GM Foods - Cunningham faces Commons quiz on fiasco over new crops
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent
One of Parliament's most powerful committees is to scrutinise the 
Government's policies on genetically modified (GM) foods.
Its members plan to call the cabinet "enforcer" Jack Cunningham to account 
for this month's fiasco, when panic-stricken ministers were overwhelmed by 
the strength of public outrage, and were forced to go on the defensive, 
backing the products.
The urgent inquiry, by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 
will alarm the Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues, who had hoped to 
draw a line under the issue after the embarrassment of recent weeks.
Mr Blair, who is deeply committed to the development of GM crops and 
foods, has been privately telling MPs that the recent outcry is a "flash 
in the pan" and predicting that it would disappear. But the inquiry will 
ensure that it will remain a political issue until the committee completes 
its report in the spring. The committee, established by the Government 
last year to scrutinise environmental policies throughout Whitehall, 
starts its inquiry on Tuesday.
Members will finally decide who to call as witnesses on Tuesday, but they 
have already discussed calling Dr Cunningham, who chairs a cabinet 
committee on biotechnology. He acted as spokesman for the Government 
during the recent outcry, and noticeably failed in his attempts to 
reassure the public.
The committee, which is to hold a particularly rapid inquiry, will examine 
the fiasco, and the general failure to co-ordinate government policy on 
the new foods.
One member, Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on GM foods, 
said: "Jack Cunningham will be asked to explain the chaos of the last 
weeks and will be asked what confidence we can have in his role in 
co-ordinating biotechnology issues.
" We want to know who is in control of the policy - and, indeed, whether 
the Government is in control at all."
Sunday Independent (London) Feb 28, 1999
GM Foods - Watchdog's silence on the guilty broke law
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment 
The official watchdog on genetically modified crops has broken the law by 
refusing to name companies that have flouted safety rules in growing them, 
or even to give full details of how often such breaches have taken place, 
writes Geoffrey Lean.
The Health and Safety Executive, which inspects trial plantings of the 
crops to make sure the rules are being observed, said that it would not 
identify the companies because doing so might "unreasonably disadvantage 
them". It has now admitted that it acted illegally in trying to keep the 
information secret.
The revelation is likely to cause an outcry following the recent 
conviction of the controversial US giant Monsanto and Perry Fields Ltd for 
breaking the rules at a trial site near Caister, Lincolnshire. Monsanto 
was fined #17,000 and Perry Fields #14,000 in the first case of its kind.
The HSE's secrecy undermines constant assurances from ministers about the 
strictness and openness of the regulatory authorities on GM crops in 
The HSE's refusal came when Friends of the Earth formally asked it, under 
the Environmental Information Regulation 1992, to say how often the rules 
had been broken and to identify the companies and sites involved. More 
than 400 sites across the country have been planted with GM crops on a 
trial basis under the regulations, which are designed to stop the genes 
contaminating nearby crops.
The HSE refused to say how many breaches had occurred on the grounds that 
"provision of this information would require unreasonable diversion of 
resources". But it did admit that the rules had been broken at one-tenth 
of the 49 sites visited by inspectors between April and September last 
The HSE has now admitted that it was illegal to withhold the information. 
The agency has apologised to Friends of the Earth and promised to supply 

Date: 27 Feb 1999 21:20:56 -0600 
From: MichaelP <> 
Subject: GM-reader letters to the INDEPENDENT

Sunday Independent (London) Feb 28, 1999
GM Foods - What the readers think: Your letters
Arguments put forward by the big food producers claiming that GM crops 
will benefit the Third World by feeding the hungry are regarded with 
scepticism by many readers, whose letters display a growing cynicism.
Denys and Janet Goose, of Shrewsbury, write: "Although the firms concerned 
are driven primarily by the question of profit, they are presenting 
themselves as motivated in an altruistic attempt to alleviate world food 
shortage." Like many of our correspondents, the Gooses' concern for the 
Third World is matched by worry about their own diet. "The Government 
should stop saying that the public is already informed as to which foods 
are genetically altered. This is simply not true since about 60 per cent 
of processed foods such as some soups, 'ready' meals etc use soya extracts 
which are already mixed at source by the addition of genetically altered 
material and are therefore unable to be labelled correctly."
Avoiding GM foods is a particular problem for vegetarians.
- -------------
Jenny Jones, of Tintern, near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, writes: 
"Vegetarians are having a tough time. Soya is a main ingredient and source 
of protein for vegetarians. Now, not only are 'uncontaminated' supplies 
difficult to be sure of, but other vegetarian foods, which in themselves 
are not being genetically modified, are being prepared with GM soya-based 
- -------------
Garfield Marcus Gabbard and Tracy Parker-Adlam, of Woking, Surrey, who 
have not eaten meat for more than 20 years, say: "We rely on basic food 
produce to sustain a relatively healthy diet. . soya milk is one of our 
fundamental sources of nutrition and now we learn that only Plamil Soya 
milk is GM-free." [note from GEN - this is entirely untrue, most soya milk on
the market is still, for the time being GE free]
- -------------
Mrs Robin Hildyard, of Scrayingham, near York, writes as a farmer who is 
worried about the impact on the environment. "GM foods may or may not be 
'safe' to eat - it is the huge damage it will do to every factor of life 
that is at stake and especially to bees. There are trial plots near me 
which will harm our bees and without bees there will be no fruit, no 
flowers, no vegetables."
- -------------
Janet Turner, a beekeeper, of Totnes, Devon, asks: "How will I keep my 
bees away from the 'poisonous' pollen?"
John Phipps, editor of Beekeepers Quarterly and a beekeeper, writes: 
"Could I have the same rights for my bees as the MPs have in their 
members' dining room - to feed on non-GM food? . Do you not think that if 
GM crops (particularly oil seed rape - an important honey crop) were grown 
widespread through the UK, a GM label on honey and pollen would lead to 
these products becoming unsaleable? To most people 'pure honey' and 
'contains food from a GM source' are exact opposites."
- -------------
Pauline Marstraud, a biologist, of Tollesbury, Essex, has spent many years 
working as a member of official advisory committees on agriculture and 
food resources, and believes strongly that herbicide-resistant crops will 
lead, through cross-pollination, to strains of supercrops and weeds. 
"Production of crops resistant to herbicides or pests should be viewed 
with extreme caution, and not be accepted unless for production in 
greenhouses or other enclosed environments. The risk of producing 
pest-resistant and herbicide-resistant strains of either crops or weeds is 
- -------------
Ian Turner, of Yalding, Kent, found a succinct quotation which sums up the 
views of many of our readers. "Is it not the responsibility of the 
Government to promote one form of farming practice over another? The role 
of the Government is to regulate in order to protect consumers, conserve 
the environment, protect bio-diversity and animal welfare. It is for the 
organic movement to spread the message to conventional farmers and the 
public that organic farming inherently meets those objectives." Who said 
it? Jack Cunningham in November 1998.
* If you would like to voice your views on GM food, we will pass on your 
letters to the cabinet "enforcer", Jack Cunningham. Write to GM Campaign, 
Independent on Sunday, 1, Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL.

Sunday INDEPENDENT Feb 28, 1999
7)  Banana 'war' threatens to wreck world trade system
By Phil Davison, Latin America Correspondent
BARRING a last-minute compromise, the US will "go to war" with Britain and 
the rest of Europe this week over something that may seem ridiculous to 
the uninitiated - bananas.
Neither side produces them in any great numbers. They are hardly strategic 
weapons. Few US or European jobs are involved in the fruit. But it is a 
war which could threaten global trade at a moment when the world financial 
system is creaking. If there is no agreement on bananas, beef could be 
next, then cars - then forget the globalisation of world trade and it's 
protectionism revisited, according to many analysts.
Some victims of the banana war will be workers in European export 
industries, but the hardest-hit will be poor banana farmers from the 
Caribbean islands.
On Wednesday, Bill Clinton proposes to launch trade sanctions aimed at 
discouraging Europe from supporting the vital banana industries in its 
former colonies. Washington plans to impose crippling 100 per cent tariffs 
on more than half-a-billion dollars' worth of European goods, from 
Scottish cashmere sweaters to French handbags.
That could mean major layoffs in Europe, including 1,000 textile jobs on 
the Scottish borders. But failure to reach a deal could be life or death 
to entire Caribbean nations, notably the eastern Windward Islands that 
rely almost solely on banana exports. Without their banana income, farmers 
and other locals may be tempted to step up marijuana production - or 
become involved in smuggling Colombian cocaine.
How has it come to this? After the launch of the Common Market, Europe, in 
a gesture to its former colonies, decided to give preferential prices and 
quotas to Caribbean bananas. It was also healthy for the European 
companies that controlled banana exports from the region. But in the early 
1990s, as trade globalisation became the norm, the giant US banana 
corporations questioned the European concessions. Chiquita Brands claimed 
it faced losses of over $1bn (#625m).
At the behest of the company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, but conducting 
its banana production via cheap labour in Central and South America, the 
US invoked Section 301 of its trade law in protest against the European 
position. In 1997, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) backed the US. 
Europe withdrew some of its pro-Caribbean concessions, but for the US it 
wasn't enough. Hence the threat to impose 100 per cent tariffs on European 
goods on Wednesday.
Caribbean leaders, who accuse the three big US bananas corporations - 
Chiquita Brands, Dole and Del Monte - of pure greed, say an end to 
concessions from Europe could virtually destroy their countries.
"The whole policy is driven by politics in the US," the EU Trade 
Commissioner, Sir Leon Brittan, recently told the BBC. "It is driven by 
the fact that Chiquita is a company that gives money to the political 
The US banana corporations hardly need a greater share of exports to 
Europe. They already control two-thirds of the world market. They pay 
their workers in Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and 
Costa Rica about a quarter the rate in the Caribbean.
"The banana war is an issue of life and death for Belize," said a 
spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce in the former British colony. "If 
the US wins we could see it systematically move against one industry after 
another. Next may be citrus, then rice, followed by sugar. We believe this 
new world order should and can be accommodating to all, even small 
countries who seem to have fallen off the geopolitical map."
8) Brit Advertising Standards Authority slams Monsanto By John Arlidge 
Observer (London) Sunday February 28, 1999
Monsanto, the US company at the centre of the storm over genetically 
modified food, has been condemned for making 'wrong, unproven, misleading 
and confusing' claims in a #1m advertising campaign.
The ruling, by the Advertising Standards Authority, the industry's 
official watchdog, is a humiliating blow to the company which is 
struggling to persuade sceptical consumers that food from genetically 
modified crops is safe.
THE OBSERVER has obtained a draft report on the authority's investigation 
into more than 30 complaints about Monsanto's advertisements. It says the 
US giant expressed its own opinion 'as accepted fact' and published 
'wrong' and 'misleading' scientific claims.
The Green Party and food safety campaigners who are campaigning for a 
total ban on GM food welcomed the ruling yesterday. Patrick Spring, of the 
Green Party, said: 'Monsanto has been caught out misleading the public. 
They should apologise to consumers and print a retraction in full-page 
newspaper ads.
'If they are prepared to hoodwink the public, what have they been telling 
their friends in Government? We know they have been lobbying ministers and 
officials to try to get their products onto supermarket shelves. Have they 
been economical with the truth? The public need answers.'
The Greens, GeneWatch, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the 
Soil Association and members of the public wrote to the Advertising 
Standards Authority last year complaining that Monsanto had breached the 
ASA's rules.
The series of commercials, by the London-based advertising agency Bartle 
Bogle Hegarty, began with a full-page ad which read: 'Food biotechnology 
is a matter of opinions. Monsanto believes you should hear all of them.'
Over the next few weeks the company went on to describe 'the real benefits 
of biotechnology for both consumers and the environment'. GM foods were 
'grown in a more environmentally sustainable way, less dependent on the 
earth's scarce mineral resources'.
GM technology had undergone 'rigorous tests throughout Monsanto's 20-year 
biotech history to ensure our food crops are as safe and nutritious as the 
standard alternatives'. Government agencies in 20 countries, including 
Britain, had approved them as safe.
In its report the ASA criticised the firm for wrongly giving the 
impression that genetically modified potatoes and tomatoes had been tested 
and approved for sale in Britain. The authority also dismissed Monsanto's 
assertion that GM crops were grown 'in a more environmentally sustainable 
way' than ordinary crops as unproven.
Monsanto has seven days to challenge the draft report before it is 
submitted to the full council of the ASA. If it is approved, the criticism 
will be published in full next month.
Dan Verakis, spokesman for Monsanto, expressed disappointment last night 
at the ASA's report but pointed out that some advertisements had already 
been amended.
'We were the first biotech company to attempt to explain this complicated 
science and to help consumer understand it better. We expected it to be 
controversial and we expected the activist industry to be very critical,' 
he said. 'We do not wish to mislead anyone.' 

9) Japanese unit of Novartis fined for underreporting income 
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 5:53:04 PST

TOKYO, Feb 27 (AFP) - A Japanese unit of Swiss life science 
group Novartis has been fined by Japan's tax administration agency 
for underreporting its income, reports said Saturday. 
The Japanese tax agency's Osaka bureau in western Japan told 
Ciba-Geigy Japan Ltd. to pay 3.3 billion yen (28 million dollars) in 
fines for underreporting its income by about eight billion yen, the 
Asahi Shimbun said. 
Ciba-Geigy Japan moved part of its revenue to the parent firm's 
account between 1990 and 1994, the national daily said. 
Ciba-Geigy and the tax agency officials were not available for 
Jiji Press news agency reported the Japanese subsidiary 
trasferred some of its income to the Novartis group's Ciba-Geigy AG 
in Switzerland by increasing the payment for chemicals imported from 
the parent firm. 
Ciba merged with Sandoz in 1996 to form Novartis. 
MAI -see

10) Genetic Engineering: The Unheard Dangers - Hidden Danger in Your Milk? ...
Jane Akre & Steve Wilson were fired for refusing to distort what they learned
about rBGH.