SnowBall archive


GE - news march 9th

Don't forget to watch Granada TV's "Dispatches" programme (UK) on GMOs this 
Thursday (11 March) 
on ITV at 9.30 - 10.00 pm.

1) WATER companies are demanding a moratorium on the commercial planting of 
genetically modified crops
2) Consumers wise to the real GM agenda
John Gray, Guardian International, 3 March 1999
3) GM row: Lord Sainsbury in Monsanto talks Science minister with food

links met US corporation while play ing role in biotechnology policy 
The Independent - London
4) U.S. vents frustation in EU banana dispute - March 8, 1999
5) S.Africa produces first gene-modified maize - March 8, 1999
PRETORIA, Reuters [WS]
6) DuPont/Monsanto could dominate farming for decades@ In LONDON 
story headlined Du Pont/Monsanto could dominate farming for 
decades, please read in paragraphs seven and eight.... On Tuesday, 
Britain' biggest player in the field, Zeneca, March 8, 1999
The Augusta Chronicle
By Nana Rosine Ngangoue and B. Oeudraogo
9) The Observer (London) 7 March 1999 - By Peter Hooley
The scientist whose work is at the centre of controversy over 
genetically modified food yesterday broke his silence to reaffirm his 
claim that eating it might harm health. 
London TIMES March 5 1999
1) WATER companies are demanding a moratorium on the commercial planting of 
genetically modified crops amid fears that chemicals used on them may 
pollute rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
The water industry fears that widespread planting of herbicide-tolerant 
crops, such as oil seed rape and sugar beet, might lead to problems in 
meeting the strict legal limits on the levels of individual weed and 
pest-killing chemicals in drinking water. The companies are concerned that 
they may face multimillion-pound bills to put in herbicide removal 
technologies at water treatment works.
A spokesman for Water UK, the industry's body, said: "We have genuine 
concerns about the widespread use of crops which rely on just two 
chemicals, so we favour a go-slow, a moratorium. We need time to find the 
answers. We need several years." An industry team of environmental and 
scientific experts is to meet for the first time this month, to investigate 
the possible effect on drinking water. English Nature, the Government's 
wildlife advisers, has called for a three to five-year moratorium.

2) Consumers wise to the real GM agenda
John Gray, Guardian International, 3 March 1999
THE Blair government's defence of genetically modified food marks a 
watershed in its history. Over the past few weeks it has had to confront an 
inconvenient truth. The global free market has become a political liability.
In what is likely to be a pattern in British politics over the coming 
years, the initiative now lies with parties and pressure groups that voice 
the public's reasonable fears about the costs and risks of global 
capitalism. Over the past month the imperatives of global markets have 
been on a collision course with public opinion. British consumers do not 
want GM food and it is proving impossible to persuade them that they do.
Only last week the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that GM food 
advertising by the biotechnology giant Monsanto was misleading. However, 
the finding is not likely to have much effect on the long-term future of 
such products in Britain.The public believes that scientific knowledge of 
the effects of GM food is in its infancy. Rightly, it suspects that little 
is known of its risks to human health and next to nothing about its effects 
on the environment. There is a deep-seated public view that, given these 
limitations, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Pooh-poohing the risks of GM food has proved to be self-defeating. The 
British electorate is notably resistant to the combination of wide-eyed 
techno-utopianism and stock market-fuelled greed that, together with 
incessant lobbying by the genetic-industrial complex, has effectively 
stifled debate on genetic engineering in the United States.
It is unwilling to defer to the authority of politicians who tell them they 
are ignorant, hysterical and blind to undreamt-of prospects of progress. 
This is something even the benighted Tories have understood.
Publication Date: March 08, 1999

3) GM row: Lord Sainsbury in Monsanto talks Science minister with food

links met US corporation while play ing role in biotechnology policy 
The Independent - London
LORD SAINSBURY, the science minister, with family 
business interests in genetically modified (GM) food, met 
senior officials from [ Monsanto ] , the American GM giant, 
while playing a key role in government discussions on 
Lord Sainsbury of Turville held a confidential discussion with three 
Monsanto executives in his 
private office at the Department of Trade and Industry on 14 December, 
three weeks after he 
attended the first meeting of the Cabinet's Ministerial Group on 
Biotechnology and Genetic 
Modification - known as Misc 6.
His meeting with Monsanto, attended by civil servants, raises fresh 
concerns about the extent of 
his role in dealing with GM issues within government and the potential 
conflict with his private 
business interests.
The day after the Monsanto meeting, Lord Sainsbury chaired a government- 
biotechnology seminar with consumer associations, environmentalists such 
as Friends of the 
Earth, and one of the Monsanto officials he had met the day before.
John Redwood, the opposition spokesman on trade and industry, last night 
accused Lord 
Sainsbury of being misleading over his role in government discussions on 
GM issues and has 
called on him to resign.
"Lord Sainsbury has promised us that he has had nothing to do with GM food 
in government, so 
I don't see why he is having a meeting with Monsanto on this particular 
date - the day before the 
15 December meeting which he chaired," Mr Redwood said.
"Lord Sainsbury, who is a shareholder and investor in GM companies, had 
made it clear in some 
of his statements that because of that he has nothing to do with GM food 
issues in government," 
he said.
"We now learn he has had a meeting with Monsanto. So what I want to know 
from Lord 
Sainsbury is which story is he going to stick to?"
A statement from the DTI said: "Lord Sainsbury meets numerous companies 
and other 
non-governmental organisations in his capacity as Science minister. Last 
year he agreed to meet 
Monsanto, at their request, to discuss issues relating to research and 
development in the 
At the 14 December meeting, Lord Sainsbury met Ann Foster, Monsanto's 
director of public and 
government affairs in the UK, Hugh Grant, president of the company's 
agricultural division in St 
Louis, Missouri, and Robert Horsch, general manager of Agracetus, a GM 
research company 
owned by Monsanto.
Dr Horsch is one of Monsanto's leading scientists in genetically modified 
plants and is named on 
the company's patents controlling the use of herbicide- resistant crops.
Ms Foster said the meeting with Lord Sainsbury included a discussion on GM 
crops and food. 
"It's perfectly normal for companies, it's perfectly normal for interested 
parties to meet 
ministers," Ms Foster said.
(Copyright 1999 Newspaper Publishing PLC)
_____via IntellX_____

4) U.S. vents frustation in EU banana dispute - March 8, 1999
WASHINGTON, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : Bananas may seem a 
trivial item for a 
trans-Atlantic trade war, but U.S. officials and analysts say the stakes 
are high for President Bill 
Clinton as he faces growing pressure to open markets and cut record trade 
``The issue itself seems petty but the principles at stake are really, 
really important,'' said Russell 
Smith, an international trade attorney with Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
``There is fault to be found on both sides but the fault lies more with the 
Europeans,'' he said. ``The 
Europeans clearly engaged in a conscious effort to manipulate the rules of 
the World Trade 
Organisation (WTO).''
The United States angered its European Union trading partners on Wednesday 
by putting importers 
of some $520 million in luxury European goods on notice that they may be 
liable to pay 100 percent 
tariffs on those imports pending the outcome of a WTO battle over bananas.
Even though the tariffs are conditioned on the outcome of the banana case, 
because they would 
take effect next Wednesday they are likely to have an immediate chilling 
effect on those imports.
The move heightened trans-Atlantic trade tensions during a time when trade 
relations are being 
strained by disputes over hormone treated beef, genetically modified crops 
and noisy aircraft.
It also prompted a loud outcry from Europe. European Trade Commissioner Sir 
Leon Brittan accused 
Washington of breaking WTO rules, hurting business people who have nothing 
to do with bananas 
and risking a major trade confrontation over an issue that could be settled 
in a matter of weeks.
But U.S. trade officials said they were forced to take the action to 
protect U.S. rights in the case.
U.S. officials accused the EU of trying to give them a bureaucratic 
run-around in the WTO and 
dragging out the banana case by making a few changes to its banana import 
regime, which the 
WTO found in 1996 to be inconsistent with global trading rules.
Washington said the new rules, which went into effect in January failed to 
comply with the WTO 
ruling. The EU said the rules do and told Washington it had to go back to 
the WTO to get a new 
ruling in the case.
Washington refused and said it had the right to seek compensation through 
higher tariffs on EU 
imports and moved ahead with its plans.
With the U.S. trade deficit hitting a record $169 billion last year and 
likely to top that this year, U.S. 
trade officials have been under pressure from Congress to take a tough 
stance on bananas and on 
looming disputes over beef produced with growth hormones and over 
genetically modified crops.
Congressional and administration officials see the banana dispute as 
setting key precedents for the 
far more politically important case involving a EU ban on U.S. 
hormone-treated beef.
``If through this procedure we can establish the precedent that, under the 
rules of the WTO, if a 
country has failed to comply you don't have to go through an endless stream 
of litigation -- that you 
can get relief within a reasonable period time -- then I think that is a 
very important victory for the 
WTO and one that will be a real boost to the system,'' said U.S. Trade 
Representative special 
negotiator Peter Scher.
U.S. officials had expressed fear that the EU would try to drag out the 
beef case as well. But a team 
of European negotiators are in Washington this week to try to settle the 
beef dispute.
U.S. lawmakers are hearing an earful from frustrated farmers who complain 
they are encountering 
unfair barriers in Europe.
``The phony barriers that Europe erects are hurting the average farmer in 
the countryside,'' Kentucky 
farmer Kevin Gardner told the House of Representatives Ways and Means 
Committee on Thursday. 
``I feel the impact of Europe's anti-trade tactics when I sell my corn and 
soybeans to the local feed 
dealership and processing plant.''
[Copyright 1999, Reuters]
5) S.Africa produces first gene-modified maize - March 8, 1999
PRETORIA, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : South Africa's first 
genetically modified grain 
has been grown commercially and will be sold on the market mixed with other 
grains, a leading seed 
seller said on Friday.
``Up to 50,000 hectares of genetically modified maize has been planted this 
season and will be sold 
in the commercial market,'' he said.
Two strains of yellow maize, both resistant to stalk borer, a pest that 
attacks maize, were being 
commercially cultivated.
``Farmers are accepting this seed because it is giving them good results 
and good yields,'' he said.
South Africa has not experienced the same backlash against genetically 
modified crops that has 
swept across Europe and is souring relations between the European Union and 
the United States.
``If Africa stays out of the trend of genetically modified crops then it is 
going to lose out on the 
advantages and advances in genetically modified organisms,'' said Walter 
Loubser, deputy director 
of plant genetics resources at South Africa's department of agriculture.
Although the grain is treated as a controlled product, it may be imported 
into the country under strict 
controls, said Eben Rademeyer, director of plant and quality control at the 
``Our legislation says that if something has been genetically modified then 
it is a controlled product 
and you will have to get a permit from the department to import it,'' he said.
He said the department was neutral on the matter of genetically modified 
crops, but thoroughly 
tested all modified grains, especially seeds, that were brought into the 
``It is quite a rigorous process and takes years before the product is 
cleared for commercial release,'' 
Rademeyer told Reuters.
He said grains for consumption also fell under the restriction if the 
kernels were whole and alive, but if 
they were ground to flour the restriction did not apply.
South Africa cleared the way for commercial production of modified cotton 
and maize after a testing 
period of about five years, he said.
There is no system in place to notify consumers that they are buying 
genetically altered maize or not, 
Rademeyer said.
``In practice it is very difficult to separate the different grains. There 
is no such system in place,'' he 
The government passed legislation known as the Genetically Modified 
Organisms Act that will 
promote and make more easily available new technology in the field as well 
as exercising strict 
control over modified products in the environment.
A researcher at South Africa's Grain Crops Institute, Dr Koos van Rensburg, 
said the modified maize 
posed no threat to human or animal health.
``The maize has been altered to produce a toxin that is specific for stalk 
borer. It is absolutely safe for 
humans and animals. The toxin is not in the grain,'' van Rensburg told
He said the technology could save the 30 million rand ($4.8 million) a year 
spent on spraying to 
control the borer.
``There is a lot of emotion involved in this issue without any scientific 
basis. It holds so much potential 
for our rural people who grow maize on a subsistance level and lose crops 
because they can't afford 
pesticides,'' he said.
($1 - 6.20 rand)
((Johannesburg newsroom, +27-11-775-3131
fax: +27-11-775-3132, e-mail:
[Copyright 1999, Reuters]

6) DuPont/Monsanto could dominate farming for decades@ In LONDON 
story headlined Du Pont/Monsanto could dominate farming for 
decades, please read in paragraphs seven and eight.... On Tuesday, 
Britain' biggest player in the field, Zeneca, March 8, 1999

LONDON, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : A merger between Du Pont Co 
and Monsanto 
Co could create a company capable of dominating the world's fast-changing 
farming industry for 
decades to come.
Combining the two businesses -- a project still firmly on the drawing board 
according to reports in the 
New York Times -- would immediately create the biggest seller of products 
for agriculture, with annual 
sales of more than $6 billion.
It would surge past Europe's Aventis, currently being formed from the 
merger of Germany's Hoechst 
AG with France's Rhone-Poulenc SA, on $4.5 billion, and leave Switzerland's 
Novartis AG and 
Britain's Zeneca Group Plc trailing.
Despite its scale, analysts believe a merger would probably slide past 
antitrust authorities based on 
the group's existing portfolios, which are largely complementary. But they 
argue the real significance 
of the deal could lay a decade or more away, when the anticipated 
biotechnology revolution in world 
farming takes off.
At stake is the creation of an industry that could dwarf the current 
agrochemicals business, which has 
grown up since 1945 around chemical treatment of insects and diseases 
through pesticides and 
herbicides, plus provision of fertilizers and nutrients to encourage growth.
But the unravelling of the genetic make up of plants, in tandem with that 
of humans, promises to 
revolutionise the way crops are raised, creating superbreeds of plants 
capable of fighting off 
diseases and insects.
On Tuesday, Britain' biggest player in the field, Zeneca, estimated the 
global agrobiotech industry 
could be worth around $75 billion by 2020 compared with just $33 billion
But this is modest compared with Du Pont's estimates of $500 billion a year 
by 2020, followed by 
Monsanto's forecast of $100 billion by 2015.
The prize for the two U.S. groups and their main European rivals, which 
also include the Germans 
BASF AG and Bayer AG, is using genetic understanding of plants to create 
in-built resistance to 
disease, insects and chemicals used to destroy unwanted vegetation. 
Eventually farmers will use 
genetically-altered crops to boost yield and improve plant quality -- the 
area with the largest sales 
``It is a period of tremendous excitement. I have seen more change in this 
industry in the last two or 
three years than since its inception in the post-war years,'' Zeneca 
Agrochemicals research and 
development director Dr David Evans told a meeting of analysts on Tuesday.
Monsanto has led the way in the coming revolution, creating a brand of soya 
which is resistant to its 
own herbicide Roundup, and working on corn which is genetically-engineered 
to resist insects and 
tolerate herbicides.
Companies on both sides of the Atlantic have started to pour ever greater 
sums into biotech 
research. Monsanto spent $4 billion buying three seeds genomics companies 
in 1997, while Du Pont 
shelled out $1.7 billion buying a 20 percent stake in another major seed 
company, Pioneer Hi-Bred 
International. ``You have to position now in order to get research and 
development in on the new 
genes, to get them into seeds and on to the market,'' HSBC agropharma 
analyst Brian Wilkinson 
``That is an eight to ten year process. To be ready for this market when it 
takes off in 2010/2015 you 
have got to make these investments now.''
Novartis, which some believe has been in danger of slipping behind in the 
biotech race, last year 
announced it was spending $600 million to build an agricultural research 
center in San Diego, and 
Zeneca said this week its biotech spending would treble this year to $60 
million from $20 million in 
``Thanks to the formation of Aventis, the European position in agrobiotech 
is very sound. Novartis is 
still a player to be reckoned with,'' Wilkinson said, adding that Zeneca 
was also positioning itself 
``astutely'' in the fledgling sector.
However, putting together Du Pont's financial muscle with the technology 
base Monsanto has spent 
several years and billions of dollars creating will raise the stakes for 
European players who have led 
the industry to date.
``There is an industrial logic to this,'' Paribas analyst Philip Morrish 
said. ``Du Pont has a lot of money 
and it would take them further in the direction they want to go.
But HSBC's Wilkinson added: ``This would be a very significant challenge to 
life science companies 
in Europe.''
[Copyright 1999, Reuters]
Publication Date: March 07, 1999
The Augusta Chronicle
Cotton farmers Johnathan Floyd and Chuck Lee have 
experienced problems that would sink any business.
They have tasted the dust of a drought-stricken field and 
slogged through its rain-soaked mud a week later. They've 
seen their sparse yield wasted on Asian and Russian consumers too poor to 
pay. They have yet to 
see much of their 1997 income, which disappeared when a reputable cotton 
broker went 
This year, cotton seeds that promised to resist worms and herbicide 
produced only withered 
plants. All this happened just after the U.S. Department of Agriculture 
told them, "You're on 
your own."
Chuck Lee will farm again this year. The Floyd family will not.
"I feel for the ones who're still fighting it," Mr. Floyd said. "I've lost 
my interest in farming 
"It's just like a big monster eating at you all the time. One little slip 
in management. . . . There are 
so many variables, so many ways to mess up. Any one of those factors makes 
the difference 
between red ink and black ink."
Cotton prices are at their lowest since 1990, and farmers are in their 
worst financial situation since 
the mid-1980s. Successful control of the boll weevil in the early 1990s 
complicated matters. Now 
four times as many farmers - 4,100 - grow cotton than did a decade ago.
And with no financial aid promised by Congress and no crop insurance 
reforms likely until at 
least 2000, farmers will have to be inventive to come out ahead this 
season, said Mark Lange, an 
economist with the National Cotton Council of America.
With the cotton industry's more than $3 billion impact on Georgia annually 
and its role propping 
up rural areas financially, a lot rides on whether the small cotton 
farmers can continue to survive.
Quitting time for some
Mr. Floyd, 31, knew four months ago he'd quit. Many other cotton farmers 
are still deciding.
"When I'd open my eyes in the morning, I'd get nauseated," Mr. Floyd said. 
"My granddaddy 
always said don't go into this. He used to feed the family on 300 acres. 
Now we can't do it with 
By stopping, Mr. Floyd said, his family can salvage some land near 
Brooklet, where it's farmed 
for 30 years. The Floyds can pay their bills and get their books in the 
black. They will auction 
their equipment. Mr. Floyd said he'll try "a suit-and-tie job."
If he farmed again, he said, "we could survive, but I'm tired of just 
Mr. Lee envies Mr. Floyd's new-found security.
"We've got mixed emotions about a lot of things," Mr. Lee said. "I'm not 
sure right now we can 
afford to quit."
He is committed this year to bringing life back to his farm and his 
finances. He has yet to commit 
to the method he'll use.
Mr. Lee's bewilderment is typical of most cotton farmers this year, Mr. 
Lange said.
"It seems to me that most farmers are living right on the edge," he said. 
"Growers are 
scrutinizing every step (of production). I don't think there's a silver 
bullet out there."
Planning for the future
Mr. Floyd said it's farmers such as Mr. Lee who will bring farming back to 
its peak.
"The few farmers that are remaining are the best there ever will be," he 
said. "When this man 
goes out of business, it'll take 10 to replace him and 10 years to train 
The Department of Agriculture's 1996 Farm Bill and its "Freedom to Farm" 
program is blamed 
by many growers for beginning the industry's downward trend.
The program told farmers to take advantage of newly open foreign markets - 
due to the North 
American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Trade and 
Tariffs - and put no 
limit on their acreage. But it also took away some price supports.
"A sorry crop with good prices is really better than a good crop with 
sorry prices," Mr. Lee said.
He said foreign imports have hurt his business. Foreign countries use 
cheap labor and chemicals 
that are illegal in the United States, lowering production costs.
To help farmers, Congress installed a three-step competitiveness program 
with the 1996 Farm 
Bill. One part of the program included $700 million to reimburse textile 
mills and importers for 
buying more expensive U.S. cotton. The money was supposed to last until 
the bill's expiration in 
2001. The money ran out in December.
The National Cotton Council agreed at its February meeting to lobby 
Congress for money to 
reimburse the Step 2 program.
The Department of Agriculture is now providing disaster payments through 
its Farm Service 
As many as 1,000 applications for disaster payments are expected to go 
through the Bulloch 
County office of the Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency by 
March 12, the 
application cutoff date, said county Executive Director John Rudowski.
The damage comes not only to farmers, but to rural counties that depend on 
farm spending for 
their livelihoods. Implement dealers, rural banks and supply dealers have 
been hit hard in the 
farm counties throughout Georgia because many farmers have been unable to 
make debt 
payments since 1997.
Help may be on the way for many Bulloch County cotton farmers. A $10 
fund is close to being passed for nearly 100 growers and gins who claim 
they lost money to 
David Prosser, a Statesboro cotton broker now being investigated by the 
Internal Revenue 
Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of 
Agriculture and the Georgia 
Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Prosser has not been charged with any crime.
The fund will also serve disaster-struck cotton growers in the future. 
Congress passed $5 million 
for the fund last year, contingent on the Georgia legislature passing 
matching funds. The Georgia 
bill made it through the state House of Representatives on Feb. 4. It will 
soon go to the Senate.
In the meantime, Mr. Lee is putting his faith less in himself than in God, 
good weather and a 
strong commodities market.
Farming is "never really as good as it is perceived to be in the good 
times, and in times like these 
it's never as bad as it is perceived to be," he said. "I don't understand 
my own rationale. Farmers 
are evidently eternal optimists."
Sharing expenses
What could be making Mr. Lee optimistic enough to farm again is a 
partnership he formed five 
years ago with Brannen Farms. He farms half of 2,000 acres with that 
family. He farms 1,000 
acres on his own under the name Boggy Branch Farm Inc.
Over 10 years, Mr. Lee has increased his acreage from 900 in 1988 to 2,000 
in 1998. He will 
probably add 200 acres more this year.
The acreage increase is more to cut labor and equipment costs than it is 
for equity. Mr. Lee, like 
many farmers, owns only about 10 percent of the land he farms. He rents 
the rest.
The partnership among Mr. Lee and his former college roommate and old 
friends has been a 
"It has worked well for both of us," Mr. Lee said. "But I can see pitfalls 
to it."
He said there is the risk of a partnership going bad. He advises others 
considering such a move to 
know a partner well and be willing to compromise.
Besides increasing acreage, Mr. Lee and the Brannens have shared the cost 
of larger equipment 
that covers more land in less time and with less manpower.
They also have cut costs by mapping and testing their soil to reduce 
fertilizer application.
The same goes for insecticide. They used to spray continually for many 
cotton pests that can ruin 
a crop. Now, Mr. Lee and other farmers hire scouts to walk every field, 
searching for harmful 
worms and insects.
Mr. Lee said cutting any more would reduce his yield and risk hurting the 
land for future crops.
"You let the weeds take a field, it'll take you 20 years to get it back," 
he said.
Recouping losses
Last year, Mr. Floyd farmed 2,800 acres, half in cotton. He and about 150 
other cotton farmers 
are suing [ Monsanto Co. ] , and Delta and Pine Land, which developed and 
promoted, respectively, 
the Paymaster 1220 cotton seed. Mr. Floyd claims to have lost $250,000 to 
plants that didn't 
develop correctly. The companies blame weather extremes, not their seeds, 
for the farmers' 
Mr. Floyd also is suing Mr. Prosser, claiming he lost $30,000 of his 1997 
crop to the broker.
All told, Mr. Floyd estimates his loss at $500,000. The government safety 
net will give him an 
estimated $30,000.
Mr. Lee has a similar tale. He built a new home three years ago.
Times were good then. But soon, nearly $300,000 worth of his cotton had 
disappeared without 
any reimbursement. He is suing Mr. Prosser for that amount.
"Farmers have traditionally cried wolf real easily," Mr. Lee admitted. 
"They're going broke one 
minute and driving a brand new pickup truck the next."
But Mr. Lee's 1990 pickup has 200,000 miles on it. And his new house was 
his first, built behind 
the old one-bathroom farmhouse. He knows this year will either make or 
break him.
"You risk everything you have and everything you ever hope to have with 
every crop," he said.
(Copyright 1999)
_____via IntellX_____


By Nana Rosine Ngangoue and B. Oeudraogo
CONTONOU, Mar 5 (IPS) - Entering the global economy, some African researchers
say, calls for trade-offs, and Francophone nations recently had no trouble
trading small farmers' rights to store and exchange seed. 
Francophone members of the African Organisation of Intellectual Property
put their signatures to the 1991 Union for the Protection of New Varieties of
Plants Convention (UPOV 91) in the Central African capital of Bangui. 
Inventors of new crops now have their discoveries protected in the OAPI
countries as per the terms of UPOV 91. 
Adopted in Paris in 1961, this Convention has been amended several times, but
most members follow its 1978 Convention which is widely interpreted by
governments to allow farmers to save and exchange seed. 
But UPOV's 1991 Convention assumes that farmers cannot save seed unless
governments permit specific exceptions, and up until the signing last week by
the OAPI countries, only 11 developed countries had adopted the 1991
The Francophone members of the OAPI are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central
Africa Republic, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger,
Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo. 
While the Canadian-based International Rural Advancement Foundation (RAFI)
believes that African countries may have been pushed too quickly into the arms
of a western-dominated intellectual property cartel, Francois Adande of Benin
says Africa must create ''trust'' that it can protect intellectual property
Adande, head of judicial and trademark services at Benin's National Center of
Industrial Property (CENAPI), believes that the UPOV Convention is
important in
so far as it protects inventions coming from Western countries that are much
more able and equipped in research, especially in genetic engineering. 
''Globalisation is scaring the whole world. Those who have something are
scared. Infringements are occurring more and more, and if Western inventions
are not protected, they will be investing in research at a loss,'' Adande

Africa, he continues, can only gain by creating trust in its ability to
acquired crops. 
''But if one does not create that trust, there will not be any kind of
technological transfer, since each would guard their own secret and our
situation would improve much more slowly.'' 
Other Francophone African experts also are not so alarmed by RAFI's concern
that the more than 20 million small farmers in the Francophone African nations
would have no right to store and exchange seeds, because of their governments'
signing UPOV 91. 
The 1991 Convention, argues Badiou Ouattara, head of a crop research centre in
Burkina Faso, ''has nothing to do with seed supply for farmers."
''It's like a musician that writes music. The whole world can buy a tape, but
it is registered internationally under the composer's name,'' Ouattara
Hien Mathieu, head of the Intellectual Property Services in the Ministry of
Commerce, Industry, and Crafts of Burkina Faso, oh the other hand, says that
while African nations must be cautious in negotiations on intellectual
rights, globalisation requires trade offs. 
''If after investment-financed research someone finds varieties of millet or
corn (suitable) for the Sahel, they must be compensated for their discovery,''
Hien says. 
''Our countries must make the necessary arrangements and adjustments, because
globalisation is here. We cannot afford to marginalise ourselves,'' Hien
''We need a rational policy on research. If the Europeans come to do research,
you have to be a partner to them so they do not take and protect everything
over there.'' 
Hien adds that the protection, in this case UPOV 91, does not mean that no one
else can use ''your product'', but that whoever has developed a crop can
use it
or permit others to use it. 
Bassane Jean Toe in Burkina Faso's Ministry of Agriculture says that adding
Francophone African nation's signatures to UPOV 91 is like adding a ''voice of
''It's a necessity. African nations have ample knowledge of UPOV, so they have
nothing to worry about,'' Toe says. (END/IPS/bo/nrn/ke/pm/99) 

9) The Observer (London) 7 March 1999 - By Peter Hooley
The scientist whose work is at the centre of controversy over 
genetically modified food yesterday broke his silence to reaffirm his 
claim that eating it might harm health. 
Dr. Arpad Pusztai's research, which purported to show how vital organs 
might be damaged and immune systems weakened by GM food, is due to be 
presented to MPs on the Commons select committee on science and 
technology tomorrow. The work had previously been suppressed. 
The presentation to the committee could re-ignite the row sparked when 
Pusztai's concerns were first expressed last summer. 
His research samples were "confiscated", and he was suspended from 
Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute. He was then forced into 
retirement and his research halted. 
Pusztai says he has now recovered his data which, he says, has been 
scrutinised by independent experts. This latest study is said to 
"broadly confirm" his findings. 
His Scottish Office research was based on 10,000 samples from rats fed 
GM and ordinary potatoes. 
Pusztai, 68, refuses to go into details ahead of the committee session 
but says he was extremely surprised at his own results, having been an 
enthusiastic supporter of the technology, and that he fully expected his 
research to give it "a clean bill of health." 
"I was totally taken aback, no doubt about it," he said last night, "I 
was absolutely confident that I wouldn't find anything. But the longer 
I spent on the experiments, the more uneasy I became." 
Until three weeks ago he was bound by a confidentiality clause from 
speaking about his employer, where he spent 37 years and enjoyed an 
international reputation. 
He said yesterday: "All I need is a chance. For the past seven months 
I haven't had one. I could not even defend myself against heinous 
accusations. Sometimes I felt I should just get on a plane and go 
away. I couldn't take it." 
Pusztai has published 270 papers, and the institute acknowledges that 
he probably became the world's foremost expert on lectins, proteins used 
in genetic modification. 
He insisted "I believed in the technology. But it is too new for us to 
be absolutely sure that what we are doing is absolutely right. 
"But I can say from my experience, if anyone dares to say anything even 
slightly contradictory, they are vilified and totally destroyed." 
He was asked whether others would do the same research elsewhere. "It 
would have to be a very strong person. If I, with my international 
reputation can be destroyed, who will stand up?"