SnowBall archive


GE - news 9th March

1) Manhood Friends of the Earth and Chichester Friends of the Earth will be 
holding a public meeting on Tuesday 20th April, 7.30pm
2) Last Thursday the Swiss National Council accepted a temporary moratorium 
for Xenotransplantations.
3) US gene-modified soybean acres could hit 40 mln 
4) I was right, says GM row scientist
5) How I told the truth and was sacked
6) DuPont/Monsanto could dominate farming for decades 
7) British seed companies rule out G/E Horticulture. 
8) Xenotransplantation is prominent on the political agenda in the
9) Conference scrutinizes designer food By Carol Harrington -- The Canadian
10) Monsanto is Behind Anti-Farmer Legislation to Regulate
11) U.S. laments European stance on biotech foods

Hey do you live in London and want to experience an alternative to industrial
agriculture and grow your own food: 
* Permaculture Introductory Weekend 13-14 March. 
Contact NatureWise 0171 281 3765.
1) Manhood Friends of the Earth and Chichester Friends of the Earth will be 
holding a public meeting on Tuesday 20th April, 7.30pm at The Assembly 
Rooms, North St., Chichester, where Patrick Holden, Director of The Soil 
Association will speak on ‘Genetic Engineering and the Future of our Food’ ­ 
for more details call 01730 812006.

2) Last Thursday the Swiss National Council accepted a temporary moratorium 
for Xenotransplantations. In 3 to 5 years this provisorium should be 
replaced by a transplantation law, where the details will be regulated. 
Exceptions: Single clinical trials and transplantation of tissues and 
cells are allowed, but only permitted if any 
infection risk can be excluded and a therapeutical use is prooved.
Thomas Schneeberger 
Forum GenAu, Bern, Switzerland

Wednesday March 3, 7:35 pm Eastern Time 
3) US gene-modified soybean acres could hit 40 mln 
WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) - U.S. plantings of genetically-modified 
soybeans ``could reach 40 million acres'' in 1999, an industry official said 
on Wednesday.
That would be over half of expected total plantings this year, Mike Yost, 
president of the American Soybean Association told a House Agriculture 
Committee panel during a hearing on biotech issues.
Last year, U.S. farmers planted an estimated 27 million acres of 
genetically-modified soybeans, or 38 percent of total plantings, a second 
industry official said.
Biotech corn acres totaled 19.6 million acres in 1998, or 25 percent of U.S. 
plantings, said L.Val Giddings, vice-president of the Biotechnology Industry 
Modified cotton varieties were planted on 5.8 million acres in 1998, or 45 
percent of total U.S. area, Giddings said.
Jay Hardwick, a farmer representing the National Cotton Council, told the 
panel that nearly 60 percent of U.S. cotton acreage will be planted with 
biotech varieties in 1999.
Around the world, farmers planted approximately 69.5 million acres of 
genetically-modified crops in 1998, including 58 million in the United 
States, Giddings said.
5.3 million acres of genetically-modified canola and 60,000 acres of 
genetically-modified potatoes were planted in the United States and Canada 
last year, he said.
INDEPENDENT (Sunday) March 8

4) I was right, says GM row scientist
ALARMING evidence that eating genetically modified (GM) food may harm 
health is to be presented to MPs tomorrow, writes Geoffrey Lean. The 
previously suppressed research by Dr Arpad Pusztai shows vital organs may 
be damaged and immune systems weakened, making epidemics worse and 
increasing cancer.
The research, to be submitted to the House of Commons Select Committee on 
Science and Technology, is likely to reignite the controversy over Dr 
Pusztai, of Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute, who sparked a fierce 
scientific and political row last month.
Until now the dispute has centred on only skimpy accounts of his research, 
funded by the Scottish Office, because his data - based on 10,000 samples 
from rats fed GM and ordinary potatoes - were "confiscated" and his 
computer sealed when he made his concerns known on television last summer. 
Dr Pusztai was suspended, forced into retirement, and his research 
He has only now recovered the evidence and subjected it to independent 
analysis for the first time. He will not give details before the results 
are seen by MPs, but says they broadly confirm his preliminary findings.

INDEPENDENT (Sunday) March 8
5) How I told the truth and was sacked

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent
NO ONE, says Dr Arpad Pusztai, could have been more surprised to find rats 
he had given genetically modified (GM) food developing alarming 
ill-effects. He had been "a very enthusiastic supporter" of the 
technology, and fully expected his experiments to give it "a clean bill of 
health", he said.
"I was totally taken aback; no doubt about it," he told the Independent on 
Sunday last week. "I was absolutely confident I wouldn't find anything. 
But the longer I spent on the experiments, the more uneasy I became."
His unexpected findings have landed him, bewildered, in one of the hottest 
scientific controversies for years. They have abruptly ended his career, 
and destroyed his international reputation. He was magisterially rebuked 
by a score of Britain's most august Fellows of the Royal Society, attacked 
by a collaborator on the study, and accused by Sir Robert May, the 
Government's respected Chief Scientific Adviser, of violating "every canon 
of scientific rectitude". Only now is he able to reply.
I spent nearly six hours with him in his modest semi-detached home in 
Aberdeen on Wednesday, as he told his side of the story in full for the 
first time. He is a small, vital man - grey-faced with the strain (he has 
recently had a minor heart attack which he ascribes to it), but retaining 
a self-deprecating humour - he spoke of the "intolerable burden" of being 
unable to clear his name.
>From the day after he briefly mentioned some of his findings on television 
in August until three weeks ago, he was bound to confidentiality by his 
employer for 37 years, Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute. Since then he 
has been preparing to make his case before the House of Commons Select 
Committee on Science and Technology tomorrow.
"All I need is a chance," he said. "For the past seven months I haven't 
had one. I could not even defend myself against very heinous accusations. 
Sometimes I felt I should just get on a plane and go away. I couldn't take 
It has been a devastating end to a brilliant career. He is the son of a 
Hungarian wartime resistance hero and fled when the 1956 rising was 
suppressed. But he had published his first scientific papers while still 
at university, and the Ford Foundation found him in an Austrian refugee 
camp. They gave him a scholarship to study anywhere in the world he chose.
He picked Britain, partly "because I knew I was an odd sort of guy, and 
the country then had a certain tolerance". He was recruited to the 
Institute in 1963 personally by Dr Richard Synge, a Nobel prizewinner in 
Dr Pusztai, 68, has published 270 scientific papers, and the Institute 
acknowledges he became "probably the world's expert" on lectins, proteins 
used in genetic modification. So valuable was his work he was asked to 
stay on after retirement age.
His nemesis began in 1995, when his group beat 27 contenders to win a 
#1.6m Scottish Office contract to test the effects of GM foods. He was 
particularly interested because he could find only one previous 
peer-reviewed study on feeding them to animals. It was led by a scientist 
from Monsanto, the controversial GM company, and found no ill-effects.
Dr Pusztai fed rats on two strains of potatoes genetically engineered with 
a lectin from snowdrop bulbs, a third with the snowdrop lectin simply 
added and a fourth of ordinary potatoes.
He has been repeatedly accused by top politicians and scientists of merely 
adding a poison to potatoes. But he says he spent six years up to 1990 
proving the snowdrop lectin was safe, even at high concentrations - and it 
is due to his work that it is used in genetic engineering at all.
To his surprise he found the immune systems and brains, livers, kidneys 
and other vital organs of the rats fed the GM potatoes were damaged, but 
not those of the rats fed the ordinary ones or those simply spiked with 
the lectin. This, he says, suggests the genetic modification could be 
largely to blame.
By last summer, he says, the Scottish Office money was running out, and 
the Institute refused funding. He therefore agreed to appear in a World in 
Action documentary, with the Institute's support, to raise the profile of 
the work in the hope of attracting funds. He says the Institute's press 
officer sat through the interview and no objection had been raised to what 
he had said in the seven weeks before screening on 10 August last year.
He was "absolutely surprised" his brief comments hit the headlines, but 
the Institute put out press releases supporting him the same day, and the 
next. But on 12 August he was suspended from work on the experiments. The 
study was stopped.
He worked out his contract until the end of the year, but found himself 
"sent to Coventry" by his colleagues. His computers were "sealed" and all 
his data from the experiments "confiscated". Dr Pusztai was forced into 
An audit committee of four scientists, set up by the Institute, reviewed 
his work and disagreed with his conclusions. He says he was given three 
days to write a reply, without access to his full data.
This reply, which the Institute put on the internet, has been attacked as 
"unpublishable". He agrees and says this is hardly surprising given the 
limitations. He has also been condemned for not publishing a refereed 
scientific paper in the normal way. He says this was impossible without 
access to the complete data, which he has only just recovered.
Martin Polden, of the law firm Ross and Craig and president of the 
Environmental Law Foundation, who has taken up Dr Pusztai's case, says 
this is "a classic case for the need for openness in science". The 
Institute says it has nothing to add to previous statements.
Dr Pusztai insists: "I believe in the technology. But it is too new for us 
to be absolutely sure that what we are doing is right. But I can say from 
my experience if anyone dares to say anything even slightly contra- 
indicative, they are vilified and totally destroyed."
But surely others will 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?"

6) DuPont/Monsanto could dominate farming for decades 
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 today. 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 potential. "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 said. "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 1997. "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]

From: (jim mcnulty) 

7) British seed companies rule out G/E Horticulture. 

This is taken from a Birmingham Post article about Horticulture. It 
reiterates to everyone that we have to apply the breaks and quick.

" The position of Carters, Dobies and Suttons is similar to Unwins in that 
they have no plans to introduce any GM seeds or plants".

The majority of these varieties can only be reproduced by vegetative 
reproduction, such as 
cuttings, as seeds do not breed true and often the exact parentage is 
unknown - Leyland Cypress 
being a common example.
Finally, there is the planned breeding programme where breeders try 
thousands of selected 
crosses to create new varieties of roses, bedding plants and so on. It can 
be very scientific but it is 
still natural, creating a cross which would be possible, ifunlikely, in 
But once the DNA of plants is altered with material introduced not only 
from a different genus 
but from a different species and even from outside the plant kingdom, we 
are into a whole new 
ball game.
Pollen and seed from these plants will escape into the countryside, no 
matter what the assurances 
given - breezes, bees, birds and mice can't read keep out notices.
The result could well be uncontrolled crosses which could give us 
weedkiller-resistant weeds, 
which, with rampant growth, could force out hedgerow plants and become a 
menace in gardens.
There could be effects which no one can envisage which will be seen in new 
strains of plants, 
pests and diseases - remember pests and diseases are remarkably adept at 
modifying their own 
structure to combat new controls against them.
Eventually, we could end up with the ludicrous situation where we are 
having to buy expensive 
chemicals to control modified plants and pests from the same companies 
which caused the 
problem in the first place.
I suspect the companies behind GM food development have given the consumer 
and gardener 
scant consideration in all this, but if we kick up enough fuss they soon 
might have to take us into 
Britain's seedsmen are aware of the concerns and Unwins has stated that it 
will not introduce any 
genetically modified varieties of edible plants in the foreseeable future. 
The company said: "We 
believe the effects of the insertion of geneticallymodifie d material into 
crops for consumption 
have been insufficiently evaluated and we cannot be sure they are safe for 
The company also added it would not even be prepared to introduce 
genetically modified 
ornamentals until human and environmental impact had been evaluated.
The chances of ornamentals being modified in the short term though, are 
virtually nil. The 
research cost is high and the likely commercial return low with no world 
food markets or 
supermarkets rushing to buy the products.
The position of Carters, Dobies and Suttons is similar to Unwins in that 
they have no plans to 
introduce any GM seeds or plants, although they did not rule out the 
possibility sometime in the 
future, but did add that any such seed would be clearly andpr ominently 
labelled as such.
Thompson & Morgan, which has a large breeding programme of its own, is in 
a similar position, 
with no GM seeds on offer and no plans to introduce any.
[ Monsanto ] , the American company, which aggressively markets GM 
products, owns 
Phostrogen in the UK but does not have a significant seed sale in Britain.
It has a Disney range for children out this year and its White Swan brand 
of shake and scatter 
seeds, which, incidentally, are a good product.
Other seed firms seem to be taking a similar cautious line so for the time 
being we seem to be 
safe from unwittingly growing GM seeds but it's something we ought to keep 
an eye on.
(Copyright 1999)
_____via IntellX_____ 
Publication Date: 6th March 99.
Reply-To: Huib de Vriend <> 

8) Xenotransplantation is prominent on the political agenda in the
In february, members of all relevant political parties put forward a total of
152 questions (many of the being complemantary) to the minister of Health.
includes questions about the risk of viral infections, financial consequences,
the life span of xeno organs, ethical considerations re the animals, choice
between human and animal organs, alternatives (tissue engineering) ...........
In a debate with the Parliament the minister of Health promised to make
for a broader public debate on this issue. A first step is the
dissemination of
information and views. The Consumer & Biotechnology Foundation has been asked
by the ministry to organise this first step. This will probably include large
scale information projects, such as inserts in magazines, workshops for
journalists, education material for schools and a website (in Dutch). We will
start collecting relevant information in April.
Huib de Vriend 
stichting Consument en Biotechnologie 
Postbus 1000 
2500 BA Den Haag 
The Netherlands 
phone: +31 70 44 54 498 
fax: +31 70 44 54 592 
Monday, March 8, 1999

9) Conference scrutinizes designer food By Carol Harrington -- The Canadian
CALGARY - Canadians sorely lack 
unbiased information about genetically 
altered food, even though the high-tech 
products are widely available on store 
shelves, a conference concluded 
A panel of 15 volunteer citizens from 
Western Canada agreed people have the 
right to know if their food is genetically 
altered. Yet the panel stopped short of 
demanding all modified food is labelled as 
"The panel is aware of a myriad of 
problems and complexities with labelling," 
panelist Trevor Lien, a coffeehouse owner 
from Regina, told the three-day 
conference on food biotechnology 
sponsored by the University of Calgary.
After absorbing heaps of material on 
biotechnological foods and attending a 
three-day conference, the panel made 17 
recommendations on the issue.
The "public jury" recommended Canada 
develop and implement an effective 
labelling policy, and a code of ethics for 
the biotechnological food industry.
Future of biotechnology
"Our seventeen recommendations are the 
beginning of an uncertain but absolute 
future for biotechnology," the panel said in 
a report.
"At this point, the technology leaves us 
with as many questions as there are 
There are 31 genetically altered plants on 
the shelves of Canadian supermarkets, 
including tomatoes, wheat, corn, soybeans, 
and potatoes.
The panel, claiming it was an unbiased, 
neutral third-party, also listed the following 
concerns in its report:
Public apathy. 
Farmers who choose not to grow 
genetically modified crops might be forced 
out of business. 
Potential for influence on regulatory 
bodies exists. 
Economic decisions might excluded social 
and ethical considerations. 
And not all of the implications of genetic 
manipulation are fully understood by the 
scientific community.
The panel heard from a industry experts, 
government officials, environmentalists, 
farmers and scientists.
Proponents argue the technology advances 
agriculture and will help solve the world's 
hunger problem, while opponents fear 
unforeseen environmental problems and 
disruption of global food systems.
One controversial technique has been 
dubbed the "terminator" gene, whereby 
plant seeds are sterile and they can't 
produce another crop. It forces farmers to 
buy new seeds from the company each 
time they plant.
Panelist Denny Warner, manager of the 
chamber of commerce in Vanderhoof, 
B.C., said she was concerned about 
misinformation about the industry. "We 
didn't say there isn't information on this 
subject; there's not a lot of good 
information out there," she told Douglas 
Mutch of the Canada Grains Council. 
Mutch disagreed with the panel that
Canadians are apathetic about the issue. 
He suggested people are simply 
comfortable with the issue and don't feel 
the need to know more about the food.
Margaret Kenny, acting director of the 
Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said 
she doesn't see the need to demand 
labelling of such foods because they have 
the same nutritional value and safety as 
conventional foods.
Companies who produce and sell the 
genetically modified seeds to farmers are 
responsible for conducting product safety 
tests, which are submitted to the 
government for approval.
Rick Laliberte, NDP MP for Churchill 
River in northern Saskatchewan, warned 
the conference: "When you fool around 
with science and nature with technology, 
Mother Nature has a way of coming back 
to haunt you."
Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) 
News Release 
7 March 1999 

10) Monsanto is Behind Anti-Farmer Legislation to Regulate *** 
Open-Pollinated Seed Cleaners
*** Ohio Bill Discriminates Against Seed-Saving Farmers ***

A bill has been introduced in the Ohio state legislature (United States) 
that would require registration and state-level regulation of anyone who 
cleans or conditions self-pollinated seed. According to the Rural 
Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), the proposed legislation is 
part of Monsanto's aggressive corporate strategy to police rural 
communities and intimidate seed-saving farmers.
"The proposed legislation is part of a dangerous trend to eliminate or 
restrict the right of farmers to save and exchange seed - all in the name 
of increasing seed industry profits" explains Hope Shand, Research 
Director of RAFI. "We weren't surprised to learn that Monsanto is behind 
the bill, because the company is already waging a ferocious campaign 
against seed-saving farmers and it's actively developing the 
controversial suicide seeds - or Terminator technology," said Shand. 
Terminator is a technique for genetically altering a plant so that the 
seeds it produces are sterile. 
According to the Ohio Seed Improvement Association, the proposal to amend 
Ohio's seed law originated with agribusiness giant Monsanto last year. 
Monsanto is the world's largest seller of genetically modified seed. 
Under US patent law it is illegal for farmers to save patented seed. To 
enforce its exclusive monopoly, Monsanto has aggressively prosecuted 
farmers for what the company calls "seed piracy." But seed saving is 
illegal only if the farmer is saving or re-using patented seed. Farmers 
who grow soybeans and wheat, for example, typically save seed from their 
harvest to re-plant the following year. An estimated 25% of North 
American soybean seed is farm-saved seed. 
Monsanto has waged an aggressive, Draconian campaign against seed-saving 
farmers in North America. The company has hired Pinkerton investigators 
to root-out seed-saving farmers and it is using radio ads and telephone 
"tiplines" in farming communities to identify and intimidate farmers who 
might save or re-use the company's patented seed. Under Monsanto's gene 
licensing agreement, the company reserves the right to come onto the 
farmer's land and take seed samples to insure that the farmer is not 
violating patent law.
"It appears that Monsanto's newest strategy is to shift the expense and 
burden of policing rural communities to the seed cleaners and state 
governments. If the bill becomes law, Monsanto's "gene police" will 
ultimately become state regulators who are working on behalf of 
Monsanto," explains Pat Mooney, Executive Director of RAFI. 
"The Ohio legislation is unfair to farmers because it places an onerous 
regulatory burden on all seed-saving farmers and seed cleaners - not just 
farmers who buy Monsanto's patented seed," explains Shand. If the bill 
becomes law, it would require seed cleaners to keep detailed records on 
every seed cleaning transaction, to document the name of the farmer, seed 
variety names and whether or not the seed is protected by patents or 
breeders' rights. "In essence, the bill discriminates against farmers 
who are lawfully saving and re-planting open-pollinated seed varieties," 
asserts RAFI's Shand.
Ohio farmer and custom seed cleaner Roger Peters opposes the proposed 
bill to regulate open-pollinated seed cleaners. "Why should any farmer 
be forced to keep records on law-abiding farmers who clean their own 
seed?" asks Peters. "And why should public tax dollars be used to protect 
the patents of private seed companies like Monsanto?" questions Peters. 
"State-level seed laws are supposed to protect farmers, not penalize 
them," asserts Sean McGovern, Executive Administrator of the Ohio 
Ecological Food and Farmers Association, a Columbus, Ohio-based 
organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and certifies organic 
farmers. "I can't imagine any use for this bill accept to enforce 
Monsanto's patents," concludes McGovern.

Background information on HB 85, introduced in the Ohio State Legislature 
on January 28, 1999. 
Specifically, H.B. 85, amendments to the Ohio Seed Law would:
- Require all seed cleaners to register as a seed cleaner or conditioner. 
(The bill states that the Director of Agriculture will determine the 
minimum quantity of self-pollinated seed that when cleaned or conditioned 
would require the person to become registered.)
- Require the seed cleaner to keep records on every farmer and seed 
cleaning/conditioning transaction. The seed cleaner would be required to 
keep all records for a minimum of five years and make the records 
available to the State Director of Agriculture on request.
- The seed cleaner would be required to document the following 
1. The commonly accepted name and brand or variety being cleaned; 
2. A declaration of any patent, or plant variety protection certificate, 
issued for the seed being cleaned or conditioned; 
3. The name, address, telephone number of the farmer who submitted the 
seed to be cleaned or conditioned; the amount of seed cleaned or 
conditioned; and an indemnification statement signed by the person who 
submitted the seed for cleaning:
"The undersigned promises to reimburse or indemnify the seed cleaner or 
conditioner for any liability damages that the seed cleaner or 
conditioner may incur for any violation of a patent or a certificate 
issued under the Plant Variety Protection Act resulting from cleaning or 
conditioning the undersigned's seed, including all damages, liability 
payments, costs, and attorney's fees arising in connection with the 
- The seed cleaner or conditioner is required to retain a sample of each 
type and variety or brand of seed cleaned or conditioned for at least 18 
- The Director of Agriculture may inspect all records, documents and 
samples required to be kept by the seed cleaner /conditioner to determine 
if he/she is in compliance with the law. If the Director suspects that a 
registered seed cleaner or conditioner has violated or is violating a 
provision - the director shall conduct a hearing, and may suspend, 
revoke, or refuse to renew the person's registration. 

For more information, contact:
Hope Shand, Rural Advancement Foundation International 
Tel: 717 337-6482 
Pat Mooney, Rural Advancement Foundation International 
Tel: 204 453-5259 
Roger L. Peters, Farmer 
Oak Harbor, Ohio 
Tel: 419 898-1210

RAFI (The Rural Advancement Foundation International) is an international 
civil society organization head-quartered in Canada. RAFI is dedicated 
to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to the 
socially responsible development of technologies useful to rural 
societies. RAFI is concerned about the loss of agricultural 
biodiversity, and the impact of intellectual property on farmers and food 
----------------- End Forwarded Message -----------------

11) U.S. laments European stance on biotech foods
March 5, 1999

WASHINGTON, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : U.S. officials 
expressed frustration on 
Wednesday with European attitudes that threaten to block the acceptance of 
genetically modified 
crops that have the potential to increase and improve food production.
While the first generation of biotech crops focused on boosting yields, 
varieties now being developed 
promise to improve the nutritional content of food and even help fight 
human diseases, the officials 
``One of the fundamental problems is just the lack of leadership over 
there,'' Tim Galvin, a top U.S. 
Agriculture Department official, told a House Agriculture Committee panel.
In the wake of ``mad cow'' beef controversy of a few years ago, many 
European Union consumers 
greatly distrust what their governments say about food safety, he said.
That has made EU politicians reluctant to press the case for genetically 
modified crops, even though 
there is no evidence the crops pose any risk, Galvin said.
Jim Murphy, assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural trade, 
attributed European timidity 
regarding biotech crops to Old World conservatism.
``They are culturally risk-averse to trying new things,'' he said, adding 
that he jokes to his European 
friends that ``the definition of an American is a risk-taking European.''
Those explanations drew a sceptical response from Representative Thomas 
Ewing, an Illinois 
Republican who chaired the subcommittee hearing on biotech issues. Ewing's 
home state is the 
second largest U.S. corn and soybean producer.
``I think they are dumb like a fox,'' Ewing said, arguing that EU 
foot-dragging is disguised trade 
protectionism. ``They don't want us in there. They don't want the 
Last year, the United States shipped less than 3 million bushels of corn to 
Spain and Portugal, down 
from 70 million in the 1996/97 marketing year, because of EU delays in 
approving genetically 
modified varieties grown in the United States.
And ``unless the EU commits to timely review, our problems with corn 
exports will continue,'' Roger 
Pine, president of the National Corn Growers Association, told the panel. 
``There are now five corn 
approvals pending in the EU.''
In United States last year, 25 percent of the corn crop and 38 percent of 
the soybean crop was 
grown from genetically modified seed varieties.
Only about 2.5 percent of the 1998 corn crop was grown from varieties not 
yet approved in the EU. 
But since modified varieties are mixed freely with traditional corn, the 
approval delay threatens all 
U.S. corn sales to the EU.
The United States cannot certify that a particular cargo is free of biotech 
corn, Galvin said.
To prevent a repetition of last year's lost sales, the United States hopes 
to assure the EU that it has 
little chance of importing any varieties it has not yet approved, Murphy 
said. U.S. farmers who 
planted those varieties have pledged to keep the corn out of export 
channels, he said.
That may be the best chance for getting U.S. corn into Europe, because the 
EU approval process for 
genetically modified food has essentially ``ceased to function'' amid all 
the controversy surrounding 
decisions, Murphy said.
Proposals to fix the system could take two years or more to be adopted, he 
Representative Earl Pomeroy, North Dakota Democrat, said the United States 
would be wise to 
recognise a deep ``cultural resistance'' within Europe to biotechnology, 
even if that is unfounded.
``We've got to understand we can't force our customer to eat our food,'' 
Pomeroy said. ``Why the hell 
don't we segregate (genetically modified corn) so we can certify what we 
Galvin said the United States could do so eventually if the marketplace 
were to pay a premium for 
segregated corn.
But it would be unfair to impose the huge cost of building separate storage 
and handling facilities on 
the grain industry, he said.
[Copyright 1999, Reuters]